Choose Him or Lose Him

Choose Him or Lose Him

Choose Him or Lose Him

Study Text: Joshua 24:14-27

Memory Verse: "[C]hoose 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." Joshua 24:15

In this week’s text, Joshua urges the Israelites to serve the Lord; however,
as much as he wants what is best for them, he realizes that he can’t make them.
He knows the benefits of serving the Lord, but he also knows that each person
has to make his/her own decision. God wouldn’t have it any other way.

Don’t you feel uncomfortable when someone does something for you (or gives
something to you), and you know that that person didn’t want to? It makes you
not want it because you know that it didn’t come from the heart. God feels the
same way. He doesn’t want our service if it doesn’t come from the heart.

What good are you to the Body of Christ if you walk around complaining all
the time? That is one of the worst witnesses you can possibly give. We often
say, "Oh, I would stay home and watch the game, but my choir is singing
today. I guess I gotta go to church," with a slumped posture, downcast
spirit and heavy sigh. Each time you do this ask yourself, "What message
am I sending to others— and to Christ? We need to serve the Lord gladly. But
remember, He will not force us.

As we look to verse 15, we notice that Joshua offers two additional sources
that can be used to choose the Lord of our lives: Our Family & Friends or
Our Enemies. {But believe me, neither is as sound as the first: Ourselves.} I’m
sure you have heard or asked the following question: "If so and so jumped
off a cliff would you?" Most of us respond with a resounding
"No," without realizing that that is exactly what we do with our
salvations. We head right off that cliff, choosing to follow what others did or
do, regardless of whether it’s right or wrong. But serving the right God for
the wrong reasons will not guarantee your salvation.

Why Our Family & Friends [our Forefathers]?:

Sometimes we will make decisions based on what our parents or grandparents
did. We choose to do something because it was done that way in the past. Just
because a precedent has been set, we follow TRADITION instead of our hearts
(what we know is right). True enough, some of our family and friends may be
right, but what about those times when they are wrong? Why take your chances?

In the case of the Israelites, we discover in verse 23 that many of them
were carrying idols that their forefathers–the ones before Abraham–worshiped
even though they believed in the Lord. There’s a difference between believing
and serving. You may say that you serve the Lord, but you really aren’t if you
continue to hang on to the idols of your forefathers. No man can serve two
masters" Matthew 6:24. So what idols (wrong attitudes, habits, tendencies,
possessions, etc.) are you holding on to that belonged to your ancestors? Get
rid of them or run the risk of letting tradition lead you right off that cliff
and into eternal damnation.

In addition to tradition, we choose the route of our family and friends
because of our RELATIONSHIP to them. We think that the love that our family
members have for us will keep them from leading us astray. I tend to place our
friends in this category as well because some of our friends are like family.
We say, "That’s my boy!!" [or "That’s my girl!!"] [S]/He couldn’t
possibly want what’s bad for me." But many of our family and friends have
led us astray, not because they don’t love us, but because they just don’t or
didn’t know any better.

I’ll give you an example: I, like so many of you, grew up celebrating
Halloween. Looking back, I know that my family loved me and didn’t see any harm
in letting me trick or treat. So I could follow tradition and relationship and
say, "My mama ‘nem did it, so why shouldn’t I?" But NOW I know that
Halloween is a day that doesn’t glorify God, so I choose not to have anything
to do with it. Don’t let your relationship to others lead you off that cliff.

Why Our Enemies [the Amorites]?:

In verse 11 Joshua reminds the Israelites that the Amorites fought them when
they crossed the Jordan. In short, the Amorites were the Israelites’ enemies.
So why would Joshua give them this option? Who in his right mind would serve
the same god of his enemy? Many of us – that’s who. The Israelites had a long
history of turning their backs on the Lord, in spite of everything He had done
for them. Joshua takes great pains to remind them of this. Instead of turning
to God, some of the Israelites turned to idols. You might say, "I don’t
serve foreign gods." But anything that is not of God is foreign.

Matthew 7:12 instructs us to "do to others what you would have them do
to you." But oftentimes we "do to others as they have done to
us." We say, "He didn’t help me so I’m not going to help him."
or "She doesn’t like me so I’m not going to like her." This type of
behavior is not of God. We must realize that when we serve in the same manner
as our enemies, we serve the same god of our enemies. Don’t let your enemies
lead or "push" you off that cliff!! Instead, choose for yourselves to
be holy (set apart). As Joshua tells us, "He [God] is a holy God; he is a
jealous God" 24:19. God is holy and He wants us to serve him wholly.
[Note: Read Colossians 3-4:6, Hebrews 12:14 and 1Peter for more info on holy
living.)

I’ll close with this story: Anyone who knows me and Eddie knows how much we
love boiled peanuts. Well, a few weeks ago a friend gave us a bag of boiled
peanuts at FAMU’s homecoming parade. I really wanted to get my grub on, but I
couldn’t because I didn’t want to throw my shells on the ground. And there was
no trash can in sight. I didn’t know what to do. Within a few minutes, the Lord
led me to ask the vendor for a bag to put the shells in. The vendor searched
and searched until he finally found something I could use. Boy was I happy.

Well, a friend noticed me with my "trash bag" and commented in a
joking manner, "Look at her; she just gotta be special." He continued
with words to this effect: "Don’t you see all these shells on the ground?
That’s why they have the street sweeper come by after the parade." As I
looked down, I did notice a sea of shells (no pun intended) on the ground. I
even wondered, "What difference is this little bag of shells going to
make?" But the Lord reminded me, "Being holy means being set
apart." So I continued placing my hulls in the bag and Eddie started as
well. We carried that bag with us until we located a trash can. Our household
was set apart.

Last week at a football game, Eddie and I ran into those same vendors. They
remembered me, not because I was a previous customer, but because I was
"the customer" who asked for a separate bag.

Are you going to let your family and friends or your enemies choose your
path? Or are you going to choose for yourself? Only you can decide. "But
as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord" Joshua 24:15.

Have a blessed week!!

Veronica