FAITH TO ENTER GOD’S PROMISES
The Choice is Yours
Jerry A Collins
serious are you in your commitment to the Lord?
made the choice to serve the Lord faithfully?
understand the consequences should you fail?
Think with me of the relationship
between renewal and service. For instance, we hear of contracts being renewed.
If service is going to continue to be given, then a new contract is needed. In
the mail, we received a subscription renewal. We would need to renew it if we
would continue to benefit. This very week we renewed prescriptions to continue
to service Ruth’s headache issues. One
of the men I meet with told me this week that because of an overseas trip he is
going to be taking he has decided to renew hid living will. New circumstances
lead to changes that inevitably require us to renew decisions that allow
service to continue to be given to us in our life situations.
Joshua 24 is an account of a
covenant renewal ceremony. They had come far from Egypt—physically & spiritually. So many
victories and defeats, they now have gathered with Joshua at Shechem. On the threshold of a new beginning with so many
unforeseen challenges and conflicts, these new circumstances require a renewed
resolve and increased commitment to the Lord. So God is calling us today to
renew our call to serve the Lord in our lives. You can look back and attest to
many spiritual victories as God led you in the way. You have seen His wonders,
enjoyed His favor but you dare not assume that the level of your commitment in
the past that has brot you here will see you thru the
challenges that lie in the future. New circumstances require a renewed resolve
and increased commitment.
1. RESOLVE TO GIVE YOUR ALLEGIANCE TO THE LORD
The reason for this gathering was
to reflect on their success under God’s
good hand of favor.
(By reflecting on God’s favor in the past 1-13) Here is a rehearsal of all that God had done
for them. There are at least four memorials mentioned: (a) the Creation of
Israel 2-4. God chose to adopt Abe. It was solely a work of God. Their origins
were from God alone. (b) the Exodus of the nation from Egypt
5-7. God performed real contrary-to-nature miracles in the real 3-diemnsional
world. Miracles God said they had seen with their own eyes vs
7. (c) the Protection of Israel
during the wandering 7b-10. The people would have been lost without the work of
God to protect them in their vulnerability in the wilderness. (d) the Crossing and possession of their territory 11-13. They
now occupied land and cities and produce that they had not built or farmed.
Understand, like Israel
needed to, that who you are and what you have is because of what God gave you.
Never think you earned what you have. God gave you a personality, intelligence,
education, talents, gifts, opportunities, and a life situation which you did
not earn or choose. Israel
owes her existence to the good hand of the Lord. So, they were to reflect upon
the sovereignty of God. 17 times the Lord says “I” in this section and not once in the next
where we change to the free will of man. (By
serving the Lord 14) The idea is to
live to do the will of your master. The most sacred title for us is a servant of the Lord. Here is the
biblical pattern of service: God has promised to give His people everything—no good thing will
He withhold from the righteous—and in
return He expects that likewise we will hold nothing back from Him! Jesus
Christ is the pattern for such service. He demonstrated humility, submission
and obedience—concepts not popular
today. There are 2 qualifications for serving the Lord (a) Serve in fear. This
is what will keep you from sinning. Sin will always hinder your service for the
Lord. (b) Serve in sincerity and truth. It is the combination of blameless and
reliability together forming one idea ‘complete reliability’.
Spiritual service cannot be erratic and undependable. It cannot be
half-hearted. God wants service that He can count on—He wants faithful servants.
(By allowing no rival allegiances
14) There can be no rivals for our devotion. Service to God is exclusive.
It does not permit competition or divided loyalty. So we must put away other
gods. Joshua says you cannot serve two masters. If you try to join the claims
of the world and Christ, the world will win for it has nothing to lose and
everything to gain. There can be nothing in our lives-- possessions or
relationships or ambitions-- that rob us of our full devotion and service to
God. They must be removed and hold nothing back that is rightfully His. We only
become useful servants when we are totally committed to Jesus and His Word.
(By choosing whom we will serve 15) There are plenty of choices all around just as
there was for Israel.
But we must make a choice. And if it is the Lord, then we must rid ourselves of
every idol! Joshua was a true spiritual leader, a man of conviction and
resolve. The Bible says as long as he lived the people served the Lord! (Picture:
I resolved at HYC 7 weeks in a row).
2. GIVE ALLEGIANCE SINCE YOU OWE GOD EVERYTHING
(A) This is only reasonable
response 16-18. Our decision to serve God should be thot
through. Their immediate response was to never abandon the Lord. Their
reasoning was sound too. It was the Lord who redeemed them from Egypt,
brot them to the land, preserved them, protected
them, provided for them, inherited them.
(B) If you decide to serve God
fully then remember that you will not 19-21. Not a good way to draw a crowd. Commitment to the Lord not a trifling matter but serious business.
The reason for warning is because God is holy, and you are not, jealous, not
tolerant and He is just, not forgiving sin in sense of overlooking it but it
must be paid for. Jesus did that and we will need to return and confess and be
forgiven—but understand that will be
an essential, continual process as we are conformed to image of Christ. Service
to Lord begins, as Paul says, by presenting ourselves to Him! We already owe
Him everything so hold back nothing 18.
3. ALLEGIANCE REQUIRES SUBMITING TO HIS WILL ALONE
When this covenant renewal is
implemented, there are two requirements. (1) The people are to clean out all of
the strange gods 22-23a. What are those worldly distractions and hindrances from
service, those worldly things that give security and pleasure, that need to be
removed so you can put more of an emphasis on whole-hearted commitment? There
can be nothing standing in the way of our service to the Lord! (2) The people are to ‘incline their hearts’
vs 23. We must have a predisposition to obey God. We
must always be leaning that way. It comes down to this: I must determine that I
will obey the Word of God even if it is unpopular or inconvenient. Paul said ‘yield your members as servants of
righteousness.’ Samuel said ‘obedience is better than sacrifice.’ But as long as I debate and decide whether
to do His will or not, I am not a servant.
(1) At outset of any new venture
in your spiritual journey, examine your heart to determine how committed you
are to serve the Lord there.
(2) You cannot rest on past
victories or ride crest of past favor of God. New challenges demand a new
commitment to serve the Lord.
(3) Discipleship is key to passing on spiritual leadership to next generation