Focal Passage: Joshua 24:14-28
Joshua 24 details Joshua’s last verbal address to his people. It was a review of Israel’s history as well as a covenant renewal. The challenge found in the covenant renewal was for the people to make their allegiance to God absolute.
Any and all other gods were to be destroyed – physically, mentally and spiritually.
This covenant was identified and validated by writing it down and by erecting a stone memorial next to their sanctuary.
As we contemplate Joshua’s challenge to his people, it is appropriate that we address our own spiritual condition. We, like Israel, face the challenge of trying to serve God and Jesus faithfully in a world filled with a multitude of other gods. Generally we think of these “gods” as things like money or ambition or relationships or habits. But a god could be anything toxic to our well-being.
Pastor Bill Ray tells the story of Betty, whom he describes as one of the happiest members of his church. But Betty was not always “happy.” After 18 years of marriage her husband ran off with another woman. That other woman was her sister. She was so devastated and bitter that she vowed, “When I die, I’m going to be cremated, and send the ashes to my sister with best wishes!”
Fortunately, Betty did not die an angry woman. Sometime later Betty visited her son and went to church with him. The preacher’s message was on forgiveness, and it spoke directly to Betty’s heart. Following the service, Betty talked with the pastor about the grave injustice she was living with.
The pastor challenged Betty to go to her sister and seek forgiveness.
Wisely, Betty did. And not only did she forgive her sister, but she forgave her ex-husband as well.
Being challenged in our faith is a good thing. Because Israel listened to their leader Joshua with their heart, they chose wisely.
May our allegiance be that of Israel who vowed, “We will worship the Lord our God and only obey Him” (v. 24).