Total Commitment

College football recruitment has been underway for months, and it has been fun to watch fans react to their team’s successes and failures. Did you know that there is an intricate system for ranking potential players and teams? At the end of the recruitment season, somebody actually comes out as the number one team for commitments. The savvy players have figured out how to use social and conventional media to spin their eventual commitment. I saw an elaborately designed graphic of a player wearing the uniforms of the two schools who were heavily recruiting him. The headline read “Which Will He Choose?” The spin was on.

I can’t imagine the pressure these young eighteen-year-olds feel when making this life-defining choice. It isn’t just about playing a game….this one decision truly sets their academic and professional careers on course for the rest of their lives.

Adulting involves making a lot of choices, doesn’t it? A wrong choice early on can take a long time to correct. Do you regret any of the choices you made in your younger years? I know I do.

But one choice I have never regretted is the choice to follow Jesus. I made this decision at the tender age of eleven when I attended something called a Lay Witness Weekend at my church. It was a weekend of activities, speakers, worship experiences, pot luck suppers (I am Methodist, after all!), and prayer. At the end of the weekend, I walked the aisle and gave my life to the Lord during an altar call. I have never looked back.

In our scripture this morning, Joshua brought the exhausted people of Israel to a place in the Promised Land called Shechem. It was time for them to commit:

Joshua 24 (The Message)

24 1-2 Joshua called together all the tribes of Israel at Shechem. He called in the elders, chiefs, judges, and officers. They presented themselves before God. Then Joshua addressed all the people:

2-6 “This is what God, the God of Israel, says: A long time ago your ancestors, Terah and his sons Abraham and Nahor, lived to the east of the River Euphrates. They worshiped other gods. I took your ancestor Abraham from the far side of The River. I led him all over the land of Canaan and multiplied his descendants. I gave him Isaac. Then I gave Isaac Jacob and Esau. I let Esau have the mountains of Seir as home, but Jacob and his sons ended up in Egypt. I sent Moses and Aaron. I hit Egypt hard with plagues and then led you out of there. I brought your ancestors out of Egypt. You came to the sea, the Egyptians in hot pursuit with chariots and cavalry, to the very edge of the Red Sea!

Joshua presented them with a concise history lesson on their relationship with God, emphasizing God’s saving actions on their behalf. He reminded them that provisions and people were given to them for centuries, and God’s actions on Israel’s behalf brought them to this very spot today.

14 “So now: Fear God. Worship him in total commitment. Get rid of the gods your ancestors worshiped on the far side of The River (the Euphrates) and in Egypt. You, worship God.

15 “If you decide that it’s a bad thing to worship God, then choose a god you’d rather serve—and do it today. Choose one of the gods your ancestors worshiped from the country beyond The River, or one of the gods of the Amorites, on whose land you’re now living. As for me and my family, we’ll worship God.”

Joshua makes his case very plainly. He is direct and to the point: chose God who saved you, or worship the neighborhood gods. But in any case, CHOOSE.

16 The people answered, “We’d never forsake God! Never! We’d never leave God to worship other gods.

17-18 “God is our God! He brought up our ancestors from Egypt and from slave conditions. He did all those great signs while we watched. He has kept his eye on us all along the roads we’ve traveled and among the nations we’ve passed through. Just for us he drove out all the nations, Amorites and all, who lived in the land.

If you recall your Bible history, you will remember that this commitment did not last long. God tried to soothe them with judges and kings, but the people proved to be unmanageable…and eventually, God sent Jesus.

“Count us in: We too are going to worship God. He’s our God.”

Today is a good day to contemplate your own commitment to the Lord. Is HE your God, or do you serve other gods? Is there anything you have put on the throne in his place? Consider how you spend your time, talent, resources, and attention. Do your choices bring you closer to God, or do they have nothing to do with him?

Choose this day whom you will serve.

Choose This Day by Michelle Robertson

Choose This Day

Every day is filled with choices. Coffee or tea? Eggs or cereal? Jeans or leggings? Work or goof off? According to UNC-TV Science, people make approximately 35,000 choices every day. I can say from experience that not all of them are good ones.

Young parents tell their children to “make good choices.” Our hope for our children is that if we raise them with a firm foundation of what constitutes a good choice, they will continue to operate from that perspective all their lives. God has the same hope for us as well.

When Joshua and the nation of Israel finally arrived at their new home in the Promised Land, Joshua instructed the people to make a good choice. This was one that would determine the viability of the nation. Whether or not they would prosper or fail miserably was completely dependent on what they would choose on this day.

Joshua 24 (Common English Bible)

1 Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel at Shechem. He summoned the elders of Israel, its leaders, judges, and officers. They presented themselves before God.

14 “So now, revere the Lord. Serve him honestly and faithfully. Put aside the gods that your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates and in Egypt and serve the Lord. 15 But if it seems wrong in your opinion to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve. Choose the gods whom your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you live. But my family and I will serve the Lord.”

The time had arrived to decide. All of the little idols and gods that they had adopted along the way had to be discarded now. Would they comply?

16 Then the people answered, “God forbid that we ever leave the Lord to serve other gods!17 The Lord is our God. He is the one who brought us and our ancestors up from the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. He has done these mighty signs in our sight. He has protected us the whole way we’ve gone and in all the nations through which we’ve passed.18 The Lord has driven out all the nations before us, including the Amorites who lived in the land.

This is a good question for us as well today. Will we let go of the false idols of celebrity, power, influencers, bad habits, self-indulgence, our own stubbornness, etc., or will we serve the Lord? It is literally a choice we need to make every day. God expects that if we choose to serve him, it will be obvious by everything ELSE we choose…especially what we choose to say, do, think, post, and how we allocate our resources.

Do your choices reflect God? Or do they reflect the world?

The people answered Joshua with sincerity. They were willing to discard every little god they had picked up along the way. They saw God’s power, heard his invitation, and decided for him.

We too will serve the Lord, because he is our God.”

How about you? Whom will you serve today? As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

New Day, New Choices by Michelle Robertson