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David's Deliberations . . .

Serving God Is a Choice

26 December 2021

After the conquest of Canaan, when things had settled down, Joshua gathers all the tribes of Israel together and briefly recapitulates the history of God's dealings with His people: How God had called father Abraham and led him through the land He had promised to him; that the family of Jacob had gone to Egypt and how the Lord had brought them out and had rescued them from the pursuing chariots of Pharaoh; how God had provided for them during their sojourn in the wilderness; how He had gone to war with Israel against enemies; and how He had given Israel at last the land of promise.

Then the aging Joshua, who had served as a slave in Egypt, as a lieutenant to Moses, as a spy in the land of Canaan, and as the leader of the conquering armies of Israel, exhorts the people to "...fear the Lord and serve Him in sincerity and truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord" (Joshua 24:14-15).

Joshua's words, "Choose you this day..." have moved so many in so many generations to live righteously. In a few words Joshua teaches us some important lessons:

Serving God is a choice. No one becomes a Christian by accident. We must obey the gospel from the heart to be saved (Romans 6:17). We choose to whom we will present ourselves for service: "Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one's slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?" (Romans 6:16)

Serving God is not forced upon us. We are free to choose whether or not to serve the Lord. God reveals the consequences of serving Satan (Romans 6:23), but He leaves men free to choose for themselves. Forced devotion is of no value to God.

Serving God is a personal choice. The appeal of God is not to nations, ethnic groups, or families, but to individuals. "The Spirit and the bride say, 'Come.' And let the one who hears say, 'Come.' And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost" (Revelation 22:17). Consequently, the judgment will be personal: "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad" (2 Corinthians 5:10).

Serving God is also a pressing choice. Jesus said, "He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters" (Matthew 12:30). The longer we take to choose to serve God, the longer we are actually working against Him. Once we know what to do, there is no reason for delay. The apostle Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 6:1-2, "And working together with Him, we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain--for He says, 'At the acceptable time I listened to you, and on the day of salvation I helped you.' Behold, now is 'the acceptable time,' behold, now is 'the day of salvation'"

Today is the day. Just as God did with ancient Israel, He is ready to forgive (rescue) you (Psalm 86:5), provide every spiritual blessing to you (Ephesians 1:3-14), and put you into His service (1 Timothy 1:12-14).

"Choose you this day..."

—David Carl Swanson