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A Matter Of Choice

Scripture Reading: Joshua 24:13-18; Text: Joshua 24:14

There are some things decreed by God and they will be brought to pass in spite of all that satan and men can do to prevent them. Acts 4:28. God has chosen His people before the foundation of the world and predestinated us to be conformed to the glorious image of Jesus Christ in heaven. Jesus will come again and the whole creation groans waiting for that day to come. He is working out His purposes and we are helpless to postpone or prevent it (Daniel 4:35). While all that is true, there are choices that God has left within our power to make. They do not determine our eternal destiny thank God, but they most certainly affect the quality of our lives daily. Such was the choice placed before ancient Israel, by Joshua, the faithful servant of the Lord.

Joshua was indeed a remarkable and spiritual man. He reveals that God is capable of making the right choice in every matter. Joshua was a great leader in Bible times. Keep in mind that he was the successor of Moses. Moses led the people to the Promised Land, but it was Joshua who led them into it. Think of it, for all those years he stood in the background. He was always in the shadow of Moses. Many people would have said, it's my time now and I will show them who Joshua really is. I will go in a different direction, I will devise a different plan. They will have to look at me now. However, that was not what Joshua did. He quietly took the reins of leadership and continued to lead down the same path Moses had led. He was not seeking his glory and praise, but God's. He wanted them to continue to follow God. So he issued the call to recommit themselves to the service of the Lord. Let us all seek to hide behind the cross of Christ, seeking His glory and His will, following on and encouraging others to do the same.

In our text, there is first a direct appeal or call to service. After the appeal is made the choice is identified. What Joshua did was speak to them as children, calling them to reverence and honor their heavenly Father, God. All who are saved by God's amazing grace, are the children of God. Therefore, Jesus said we are to pray to our Father in heaven. Matthew 6:13. So as children, they were to reverence or FEAR the Lord. Many things can be embraced in that word. (1). A child may fear the parent because of the power to punish or inflict discipline. (2). A child may fear the parent because they have power to bless or to withold such benefits. (3). A child may also fear a parent in the sense of fear, as to reverence with a dread of displeasing and a desire to submit. The meaning of the word suggests that the third case is under consideration. This is true devotion to God.

He then mentioned their service. The order is proper, for first there must be a loving devotion to God in our hearts before there will be works of praise and service from out hands. If we do not reverence and worship God, we are not likely to serve Him either. In the appeal to serve God, he then encourages them to refuse idolatry. Idolatry was a very real danger to them. Though they were now occupying the promised land, there were many pagans worshiping idols around them. Some were among people not yet driven out and some were among people with whom they had made allegiances. Added to that was the fact that not many years before they saw the worship of idols in Egypt and were even temped to try it as they waited on Moses to bring them God's Law. Exodus 32:4. That very law brought God's word and their actions were condemned. Exxodus 20:3-5. That is what he meant by the gods of Egypt. Yet he also warns of other gods such as those before the flood. Did people worship idols before the world was destroyed by a flood? Evidently, for they had corrupted all that was good. Genesis 6:5. He emphasizes, put away the idols and SERVE THE LORD.

He then added, but if you will not do so, then any god you choose will be essentially the same. Do you know why that is true? The reason is because all other gods that men worship, are totally helpless. Jeremiah 10:5. The same is true of us. If we refuse to serve the true and living God, none of the others to whom we may give our allegiance can help us achieve the true meaning of life. Oh, but you say, I have never worshiped an idol. Haven't you? If you make money and material things the driving force of your life, you are guilty of idolatry according to the Bible. Colossians 3:5. Some people serve the god of materialism and wealth. Matthew 13:22 Other people serve the god of pleasures, but they are not enduring. Hebrews 11:25. Other gods that may be served are: power, popularity, fame, self-will and indulgence. These gods of mortal minds, always fail those who serve them. The only God who does not fail is Jehovah. So why not serve Him, that is the choice before us.

If your heart has been touched to know the reality of God and you use wisdom, you will choose to serve the Lord. If you have such a desire today, listen carefully to how it is to be done. Not just any way will do. If we are to serve the Lord, we must do so as He desires. Many in our day are trying to hold on to the gods mentioned above and say they are serving the Lord. We are not serving Him unless we are doing His will. Listen to what He requires of us. We are specifically TO SERVE HIM IN SINCERITY AND IN TRUTH. (text). It is interesting to note that the two are mentioned together in the New Testament also. 1 Corinthians 5:8. It does not appear that Paul is quoting from this passage, but it is clear that these same ingredients are indispensable in our service to God today.

Jesus mentioned two ingredients of worship as Spirit and truth. John 4:24. Truth is important to God, whether we read from the Old Testament or the New Testament. Pilate asked the question, "What is truth?" John 18:38. Truth is what God speaks in His holy word. John 17:17. Therefore we are to worship Him and serve Him as the Bible teaches us we should. It is not for us to decide how we want to do it, we must follow His ways. We can be sincere in our service and dead wrong. People destroy the lives of innocent unborn children and are sincere in doing so, but in God's sight it is murder. Others destroy property in vandalism and they are sincere, but in God's sight they are wrong. People are sincere in religious service, but wrong in what they believe.

If we are going to serve the Lord by the leadership of the Holy Spirit, we will hold the truth and be sincere. Sincerity is important to God too. Sincerity can mean a number of different things in the scriptures. However, the basic idea here is that of perfect, whole and complete. It means that we are to serve God in such a way that we are completely given to do His perfect will. It is not secondary to us. It is the primary focus of our lives. (1). We are to be sincere in our faith. Titus 2:7. (2). We are to be sincere in our love for Him. 2 Corinthians 8:8. (3). We are to be sincere in our service to Him. (text). It means that our words about him are not to flatter Him, if we really are not sincere in our service. We are to serve the Lord Jesus Christ without hypocrisy and deceit. In other words, if we talk a good talk, let us walk a good walk. If our words and works are not saying the same thing, then we are not sincerely serving Him. Our goal should be that we SAY we love Him and SHOW we love Him too.

How sincere are you in your service? I can tell you this, if we are not sincere, we will allow almost anything to get in the way of our service. It can be too cold or too hot or we may be too busy or too tired. We may think that God and the preacher demands too much of us. We may fail to read and study the Bible because it tells us too many things to do. But, my friends, when we are serving the Lord in sincerity, it will not seem a task or labor. It will be a joy in the Lord. It will no longer be a take it or leave it option. God's service will be viewed as necessary. Why? (1). Because God requires it. Think of it, God requires certain things of His people. He certainly did of ancient Israel. 10:12. Evidently, He requires the same of us today. Romans 12:1. We are to be doers of the word, and those truths are set forth in the word of God. James 1:22. Why would God grow weary of such noble endeavors? He hasn't, we are still to serve Him in sincerity and truth because He still desires it. (2). Because conscience requires it. Paul said that he lived with a good conscience. Acts 23:1. The only good conscience before God is one that is set by the scriptures. The conscience like a timepiece, can be set wrong. Many have grown up in homes that have done so. When the conscience is set by the teachings of the Bible and we have a good conscience, then it is set by right principles. Many cannot have a good conscience before God because they have not followed Jesus in Baptism yet. 1 Peter 3:21. Others may have done so, yet they do not really have a good conscience, because deep down, they know they are not doing as they should. They know they should serve the Lord better than they are. If Jesus died for your sins, you owe Him your best. (3). Because gratitude requires it. It was that message which stirred the hearts of the hearers of Joshua's call to service. In verse one of the chapter, he assembles the people. Verses two through thirteen, reminds them of all that God did for them. For that reason, I included the thirteenth verse in my scripture reading. He in effect said, look at all that God has done for you, how can you not want to serve Him? After all He has done, we should all want to give our lives for His glory. He gave them deliverance from Egypt's bondage and brought them to a land of promise, filled with all they needed. What more could they possibly ask? For us, He gave His Son to die on the cross of Calvary to pay our sin debts and then freely gave us all material blessings too. Romans 8:32. Everything we have, He has given us. James 1:17. What more do we need? In time and eternity, God has provided for us. We are to be grateful and thankful, but are we? Do we really feel a deep sense of gratitude from which emerges thanksgiving. Seldom do we thank Him for His blessings, we just keep asking for more. Philippians 4:6. It is His will for us to give thanks for the blessings we receive. 1 Thessalonians 5:18. Who want to be an ingrate? Yet it is said to be a sign of the "last days." 2 Timothy 3:2. A grateful heart will motivate us to serve the Lord with sincerity.

As I conclude, let me ask you to search your heart and soul, to see if you are really serving the Lord in sincerity and truth. If you are, each time you lay down something in order to come worship the Lord, you will gladly make the sacrifice. If you are, then attending church, giving of your finances, and giving yourself to do God's will each day; will be counted the least you can do for His service. We need to repent if we have not already done so. Repentance is to feel sorry for our failures to do the will of God and to try to rectify the problem through prayer and renewed devotion. We need to PLAN and PURPOSE and PURSUE this path in our lives. We will never serve the Lord as we should through impulse or whims. Worship can become formal, unconscious, and even hypocritical. Therefore, we must commit ourselves to this holy purpose of serving Him in sincerity and truth. This objective is the desired end of this passage, for it does not just tell us about God as a revelation of Him. Instead, it adds to that revelation a call to serve Him. Remember that the service of God is a matter of choice. So pray for strength and grace to do so and discover the blessings God has built into this wonderful system of service.

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This page last updated on June 17, 2014