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

Irritable and Cross

Raise your hand if you thought the title is referring to how I woke up this morning…haha! Fortunately, it is a bright and sunny day here on the Outer Banks but that’s not to say that there are times when we wake up irritable and cross. What do you do to remove that dark cloud when it happens to you? When those around you are irritable and cross…say, your children/spouse/co-workers…how do you react?

In today’s passage we see God “reaching his very last nerve,” as we say in the South. The children of Israel had been set free by the power of his own hand. They were being delivered into a Promised Land of milk and honey that he provided. They were safe, whole, and free.

And irritable. And cross. And wholly ungrateful.

Hence, the last nerve.

Their constant complaining reached a point that exacerbated even the patience of God. When their shouts of “why did you free us from beatings, starvation, and slavery just to have to eat this lousy food” became too much, God responded.

Numbers 21 (The Message)

4-5 They set out from Mount Hor along the Red Sea Road, a detour around the land of Edom. The people became irritable and cross as they traveled. They spoke out against God and Moses: “Why did you drag us out of Egypt to die in this godforsaken country? No decent food; no water—we can’t stomach this stuff any longer.”

6-7 So God sent poisonous snakes among the people; they bit them and many in Israel died. The people came to Moses and said, “We sinned when we spoke out against God and you. Pray to God; ask him to take these snakes from us.”

The extreme reaction of God sending biting snakes might catch you off guard today. We tend to focus on God as our “forever friend” so much that we belittle his right and need to discipline his children in the way that he sees fit. But read on:

Moses prayed for the people.

God said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it on a flagpole: Whoever is bitten and looks at it will live.”

So Moses made a snake of fiery copper and put it on top of a flagpole. Anyone bitten by a snake who then looked at the copper snake lived.

Even in this, God redeems his people. He fashions a substitute that would take on the sins of the nation and cheat death. He raises up a coppery snake as an atonement for sin. Why? Because the people repented. The leadership prayed for mercy. They confessed their sin.

If a metal snake on a flagpole can do this under God’s authority, how much more powerful is the action of Christ raised on a pole of wood? When God sent his son as a substitute offering for your sin, he guaranteed your eternal life.

So turn your eyes upon Jesus. Confess, repent, and believe. There you will find forgiveness that ensures that you will live forever and sin will no longer be able to bite you to death.

Promised Land by Debby Fox