Joshua 24:13-18 New King James Version (NKJV)
13 I have given you a land for which you did not labor, and cities which you did not build, and you dwell in them; you eat of the vineyards and olive groves which you did not plant.’
14 “Now therefore, fear the Lord, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord!
15 And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
16 So the people answered and said: “Far be it from us that we should forsake the Lord to serve other gods;
17 for the Lord our God is He who brought us and our fathers up out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, who did those great signs in our sight, and preserved us in all the way that we went and among all the people through whom we passed.
18 And the Lord drove out from before us all the people, including the Amorites who dwelt in the land. We also will serve the Lord, for He is our God.”
"You have a new son," the doctor came to tell me.
--Praised God for His gift, after two days in labor.
--"Are my wife and son okay?" "Yes," the doctor said.
By God's grace, we have a new year! What will it be?
--Will it be better? Or worse? Thrive, or survive?
--Each new day has a New Year's Day tucked in it.
--To "Choose this day whom you will serve ..." Joshua called Israel, now in their land, to Shechem.
--What Plymouth Rock is to America, it is to Israel.
--In the beginning, where Abraham had settled.
--Where Jacob met God. Joseph's bones were buried.
--A holy place, where God often spoke to His people.
--He did again, through Joshua, reviewing God's good providence and blessings, miracles of His grace.
--He says, "Fear (love) the Lord, serve Him in sincerity and truth, put away (false) gods, serve the Lord .. Choose this day whom will serve" (14f).
Remember the song, from "Fiddler on the Roof"?
--Sunrise, sunset; sunrise, sunset, swiftly fly the years. One season following another, laden with happiness and tears." May it bring God's will. I took a pair of shoes to a shop for repairs and the man said, "These are not worth repairing!" Wow!
--I took them to another shop, "Sure, these shoes are worth saving. I can fix them up." He did!
--Best shoes I ever had; he made them like new again.
Every person is worth saving - like those shoes.
--To be loved, nurtured, cared for - like Jesus.
--It depends on which "shop" - or God - you go to.
--Depends on the goals, goodness, or God you follow. God says, "I make all things new." New day! Year!
--Gives us a "new heart .. spirit .. a new song."
--When we are "born again" we are given a new name.
--The name "Christian." A follower of Christ Jesus.
--God says, "I will do a new thing." Choose Him!
--My friend, have you done that? "Choose this day."
It was to an individual - "Choose you, each of us.
--It was to be immediate - "this day," not future.
--It was intentional - "whom you will serve."
--No wonder Joshua urged, "Fear the Lord, serve Him in sincerity and truth, and put away false gods."
--God's message, to us today. Joshua's final one.
--We get many invitations, this of God, stands out!
A decision helps us to face the future unafraid.
--Like my grandfather Stafford who did chores nightly, with his milk cows, and animals, by lantern.
--From house to barn, he couldn't see all the way.
--With the lantern, he could see, one step at a time.
--That's the way it is with the Lord in our life.
"Before each step I take, along my pilgrim way, yes I have a choice to make - go God's way or stray:' WDG
Here are three keys to peace and joy God gives us.
1. Fret not - because God loves you (I John 4:16).
2. Faint not - because God holds you (Psa. 139:10).
3. Fear not - because God keeps you (Psa. 121:5).
God is good to us, friend. Far more than we deserve.
--We often fail Him. But He will not fail us.
--He has a plan for good for us, Jeremiah 29:11 says.
--God wants to unfold it, as we pray, day by day.
Here are 4 things that make our days a blessing.
I. LET US SEARCH THE SCRIPTURES DAILY (Acts 17:10-12).
--The Berean believers "searched the Scriptures."
--They read their Bibles. When? ".. daily."
--Why? "To find out whether these things were so."
--They "received the Word (of God) gladly."
--It was "with all readiness .. many .. believed."
--You see, they had a hunger for God. Were blessed.
Make God's Word part of your needed "daily bread."
--Get a verse for the day. The year. A life verse.
--It is the "armor of God" for us; directs, equips.
--It helps us face the unexpected, in confidence.
Is anyone fully educated without Bible knowledge?
--It is the most important of all things to read.
When God came to earth in the Person of Jesus it was to change our human hearts so we be "born again."
--So-we repent.. Yielded to God. Gentle. Kind.
--To be ever kept from sin's bondage. In His Spirit!
--How are we able to do this, in our modern world?
--As we trust the Lord, and "hide God's Word in our heart" (Psalm 119). Jesus said, "Follow Me."
We cannot do God's will if we don't know God's will.
--So why not make a habit of reading the Bible daily?
--Try it. See if it doesn't make life better!
II. LET US PRAY DAILY. It is in Psalm 86:3.
--"Be merciful to me, 0 Lord, for I pray unto Thee, daily." Talk to the Lord, friend. He listens.
--What a worthwhile habit, that helps us all.
--It pleases God, to have His children call on Him.
--The greatest and godliest are people of prayer.
My seminary professor used to say, "We can do nothing better than pray; and, after we pray, we can do everything better." You know, I've found he is right.
Jesus often prayed, early and late, every day.
--Paul, Peter, John, also. If they had need, we do!
--It is foolish to think that I - or anyone - can do our very best and receive God's best, without time for prayer. Not just once a day! Talk to Him!
My Mother used to go about the house singing hymns.
--One I well remember had these wonderful words: "0 how praying rests the weary, Prayer will change the night to day! So, when life seems dark and dreary, Don't forget to pray."
--She made it a practice to pray for many people.
--Laid aside her work, to pray for us, and others.
--A mother's and dad's prayers keep us from falling.
--We were all the better for it. Take time to pray.
Prayer is power! Prayer changes things; changes us.
--One who knows the Lord can pray anywhere, any time.
--A "little talk with Jesus makes it right."
--It puts us in partnership with the Almighty.
God says, "Call to Me, I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know" (Jer. 33:3).
--Nothing lies beyond the reach of prayer, except what lies beyond the will of God. Prayer seeks His will.
III. LET US TAKE OUR CROSS DAILY. Note Luke 9:23.
--Jesus said, "If anyone will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me." It will make a new you. Me. Anybody.
--Note, "anyone .. come .. deny .. take up .. follow "
--Follow who? "Follow Him." No One better to follow.
What is a "cross"? A place of pain, with or for God.
--Of suffering. Sorrow. Some affliction, or loss.
--Trials, troubles, disappointments. Self-sacrifice.
--Of serving others. Loving one who is unloving.
--Of "walking in paths of righteousness." Patience.
--Of "turning the other cheek; going a second mile."
--It is simply living for Jesus. Living like Jesus.
Cross-bearing .. keeps a temper tongue in control.
--Seeks God's compassion; His perfect love and grace.
--Or witnessing of His love. Winning, saving a soul.
--Of "walking in His steps." Content, in His will.
--Let's face it, "Take up his cross daily for Jesus.
--So let's face our cross, as it comes, with His help.
IV. LET US ENCOURAGE ONE ANOTHER DAILY. Hebrews 3:13.
--God says, "Exhort (encourage) one another daily."
--Dear friend, these days people need encouraging.
--In our worship and Bible studies we seek to do that.
--To encourage one another. Seeing good, not faults.
--In prayer and loving fellowship, and friendships.
--Why are we to do so? "Lest any be hardened by sin."
--The world has a way of wearing us down, and out.
--God by His Spirit lifts us up, so we can lift others.
People need to be lifted up, not put down.
--If you and I don't encourage one another, who will?
--Find good things to commend. Offer loving help.
--Show God's love, in Christ. "Exhort one another."
Dear friend, let me encourage you, in the Savior.
--Get God's new life!
Wilbert D. Gough, ThD., DD. 41