Joshua 24:14-15 - “Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord.  But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose 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.”
James 4:4 - You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.
Choices, Choices, Choices
The road of life is filled with many choices:
· Whom will I marry?
· Where will I live?
· What will I do for a living?
· How will I raise my children?
· Will I believe in God? And if I do, what will that look like?
· What will be the standard of my moral conduct?
The questions above highlight just a few of the most important choices we must make. And, as the rock group, Rush, observed, “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.”
In Joshua 24, we observe Joshua taking the children of Israel on an historical reconnaissance to remind them of who God was and what God had done for them in the past. Implicit in this was the covenant God made with Israel and how they could look forward to the future fulfillments of God’s promises… IF.
When God made a covenant with Israel, it included blessings and curses. Obedience, faithfulness, and loyalty would be rewarded with divine blessing beyond their wildest imaginations. Disobedience, unfaithfulness, and treason, on the other hand, would result in God’s curses. It seems like a no-brainer as to which should be preferred.
And so, after laying out the history of God’s love for his people, Joshua presented them with a choice. He told them to serve God only and to throw away the idols of their past. Whom would they serve – the gods of their ancestors or the living God? Joshua answered as the covenant head of his home by declaring publicly, “…as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
Gods of this Age or God of the Ages?
It is interesting, and quite telling, how this theme of choosing between the Living God and the gods of the age – between covenant-faithfulness and spiritual adultery – is repeated regularly throughout God’s Word. The fact is, we will all bow before something or someone, simply by the living of our lives. We are hardwired to worship. Who or what will be the object of our worship is the choice ever before us.
James put the choice before us with crystal clarity. He said friendship with the world is hatred toward God. What exactly did he mean here? By “friendship with the world,” he wasn’t talking about loving people and ministering to them. Instead, he had in mind what Paul meant in Romans 12:2 – love for and conformity to the sinful, fallen, and disobedient patterns of this world, the kingdom or domain of darkness, as Paul put in Colossians 1:13.
James followed by saying, “anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” James was essentially putting before God’s covenant people in the New Testament the same choice Joshua put before God’s covenant people in the Old Testament: Who would they bow their knees to: the gods beyond the River, the gods of the Amorites, the state, secular worldviews, modern American materialism, Hugh Hefner’s Playboy hedonism, the entertainment industry, sports, status, or even good things like work and family?
James called people who bow to any of those things, “adulterous.” They have left their first love to cozy up to the gods of the Amorites and Egyptians.
People in our day still cry out for their free will, rights, and autonomy. And God gives them that option, but not with impunity. There are consequences to foolish choices. People may choose Baal, Molech, Ra, or the gods of this age, if they so choose. They can exercise their moral choice to their heart’s delight. They can revel in their “free will.” But the wrath of God will be leveled against all unrighteousness and ungodliness (Romans 1:18).
But There’s Grace
Because of God’s grace, however, we learn God continually calls his children back to covenant faithfulness. He lovingly commands us to throw away the gods of our past and to love, obey, worship, and serve him instead. Each and every day that we are granted another day to live, we are given an opportunity for repentance and covenant faithfulness.
So brothers, choose this day whom you and your household will serve. There’s only one right answer.
God of the ages, I praise you for your covenant faithfulness. In your grace you chose and redeemed me. You lavish me with your goodness each and every day. You bless me in ways I am often not even aware of. When I think about such things I am instantly reminded of how undeserving I am… and how gracious you are. Thank you. Forgive me Lord for those times when I cling to other gods, which are no gods at all. Deliver me from those idols I have crafted in my own image which will not help me because they cannot help me. Restore to me a deep desire to choose you each day and then live the rest of the day in light of that choice. By the power of your Spirit, may my life constantly glorify you and draw others to you. In Christ I pray. Amen.
This Week’s Prayer Guide
[You can use this prayer guide in your own personal prayer time. However, I encourage you to use it with a group of Christian men. Each week you should spend time praising God for who he is, confessing your sin to him (be specific) as well as expressing gratitude to him for his gracious forgiveness. Also, don’t forget to thank God for the many ways he has poured out his goodness in your life. Then, focus on the following areas of supplication, which will change from week to week.]
Petitions – prayers for yourself
· Give me greater love for those who are hard to love.
· Help me to be compassionate and kind to those in need, even when it’s inconvenient.
· Pour out upon me your courage and boldness to love those who do not know you and to share with them your Gospel, in word and deed.
· Today’s events and interactions with others, planned and unplanned
· Other needs
Intercession – prayers for others
· My family
· My family and friends who do not have a saving relationship with Christ
· For those in my other spheres of influence who do not know Christ
· For evangelists around our city, country, and world who risk much in sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with those who are lost
· Other needs
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