Who Will You Serve? Making the Choice Between God and Self | #sundaynightstarter 07/08/2018

But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, 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 (NIV)

What is the most recent decision that you had to make? I don’t mean the last major decision, just the most recent. Mine was whether I would write this devotional. My house is quiet – both kids and hubby asleep, the dishes are long finished, toys picked up, and laundry done just enough to eek by for another day. To be honest, part of me wanted snuggle with my bag of chips and watch Hulu. I’m not sure that there was a hard and fast correct decision, but I chose writing and it seems like it was the wise choice in this moment.

Many of our decisions are like this, aren’t they? Choosing between what is good vs. what is also good. What kind of ice cream to have, which book to read, what to make for dinner, where to go for date night, and the list goes on. We should certainly apply wisdom to these situations, but for the most part, we could go either way and it would be completely fine.

Then there are decisions between right and almost right, as Spurgeon so aptly penned*. Things such as what college to attend, who to marry, when to change jobs, and where to volunteer. These decisions have more significant and far-reaching consequences for our lives.

Finally, there are times where we must decide plainly between good and bad. There’s really no other way to say it. There is a distinction, a line in the sand, and to cross it would simply be wrong, regardless of how we may try to justify it. Things such as stealing, gossiping, slandering, being unfaithful to our spouse, and giving in to jealousy. Scripture clearly lays out God’s will in these situations, we have no need to wonder how He feels about them. (Now, let me pause for a minute to say that, though this is true, His grace is still free and available to all, regardless of what we have done. Can I get an Amen? Praise Jesus, because I would be utterly doomed without it.)

In the final chapter of the book of Joshua, Joshua gathers the elders, heads, judges, and officers of Israel, and presents to them the history of Israel, God’s chosen people. He recounts the ways in which the Lord has rescued and redeemed, the miracles that He’s done, and the free gift of an abundantly fruitful land that they did not labor for or build. You would think they wouldn’t need reminding, but alas, we are a forgetful people, aren’t we? How often do we, as New Testament believers, take for granted the saving power of Jesus in our own lives? It’s nothing short of a miracle, and yet there are times that we treat it as ordinary. Reminding ourselves of God’s goodness is imperative.

Joshua concludes by exhorting the Israelites to “Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates 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 ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, 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 24:14b-15 NIV) The Israelites technically do have a choice here, but who in their right mind would choose anything other than the Lord, particularly after being reminded of all the ways He had worked among them? It’s no surprise then that they adamantly declare their allegiance to the one true God.

Choosing God and serving Him over anything else is a clear and simple choice. We don’t have to wonder where God stands on this issue because it’s laid out in the first commandment: “You shall have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:3 NIV) If we’re honest though, this isn’t always easy in our day to day lives, am I right? We become numb to certain sins, or we are tired, or prideful, or spiritually distant, and we slowly drift from the resolve to chose God and serve Him over self (which is really what every choice other than God comes down to – self). I know that I do. Do you know what the irony is though? Even when it feels easier, more fun, or more comfortable to choose my own way, it has never once been the better choice. It has never once led to more peace or more joy than when I choose to love, serve, and obey Jesus. 

Friends, we have a choice, much like the Israelites did. Will we choose God, or will we choose self? Will we serve God with our time, money, energy, and gifts, or will we serve self. This week, we can focus on me, me, and more me, or we can choose to focus on God. To love Him regardless of circumstances. To trust that His ways are best, even when sin whispers otherwise.

I encourage you to sit in a quiet place sometime in the next few days and write out your own history with God. Preach to yourself what He has done in your life, much like Joshua preached Israel’s history to them. Then, make a list of where you need to choose God over self. Ask Him for help, run to Him for strength, and fall on your face before Him to receive grace when you falter in your resolve (because let’s be honest, we won’t be perfect until Heaven so we will always, always, need more grace)! I’ll share a little of my list with you in the hopes that it helps to jumpstart yours:

This week, Lord help me to choose:

Your peace over my anxiety

Your forgiving power over my grudges

Your patience over my impatience with those closest to me

Time with you over mindless entertainment

I pray that we choose God in the face of whatever may come our way. He is worthy, He can be trusted, and He is the only One who loves us perfectly. It is always worth it and infinitely better when we lay down our self and choose Jesus. Let’s declare with Joshua, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15 NIV) Love to you, friends!

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