Aren’t you grateful for the choices you have? I am. I love the choice to work where I work and to live where I live and to eat what I eat and for Niki my wife. Also for her mutual choice of me! I love the Aggies, San Antonio Spurs and turtles. God in his infinite grace and love gives us many choices, both good and bad. Our choices guide us and define us. Some choices are temporal and others are eternal. Choices are powerful. We are told in God’s word to choose wisely.
As we look at Joshua’s last words we can see that his message boils down to one main statement. He was telling the Hebrew people, “You have a choice to make. You can continue to serve God after I’m gone or not. It’s up to you. But you have to choose.” As for himself, Joshua had made this choice long ago. He had decided that He would serve the Lord, and had lived his long life according to that decision. But now he was about to leave. He would no longer be the leader of this nation, telling them what to do. From now on they would have to choose for themselves. In my mind, he’s much like a parent to their child before college, military or career saying, “Look, you’re on your own now and you face a choice. Serve God with your life. Live according to His Word or not, but choose.”
In a very real sense Joshua was like a parent to these people. He had been with them all their lives. Decade after decade He’d watched them grow up and then fight to conquer the land God had promised them. So perhaps better than anyone else Joshua knew that as the old hymn puts it, “Through many dangers, toils, and snares, they had already come.” And Joshua had been with them in all that, guiding them every step of the way. All this “parental” experience had led him to know these people, to know them better in fact than they did themselves and so he knew that they were wrestling with this choice. He knew that at this moment in the history of this nation there was in fact a wavering as to their faith in God. They were wondering, if they still needed God now that this long war was over. With his final words, Joshua confronted them with this choice–to follow God or not. I think this text gives us a good chance to re-examine the depth of our own commitment to the Lord.
Joshua encourages commitment based on what God has done in the past.
17 It was the LORD our God himself who brought us and our fathers up out of Egypt, from that land of slavery, and performed those great signs before our eyes. He protected us on our entire journey and among all the nations through which we traveled. Joshua 24:17
Joshua was using some of his precious final words to remind them that they had a decision to make, but that it was really a no-brainer because it was the only reasonable option to take when they considered all that God had done for them in the past. Joshua was saying that surely anyone who took the time to look back and see all that God had done would choose to serve God!
When it comes to our following God, this principle of choice that Joshua referred to is still applicable in our day and age. If anyone today has even a partial understanding of all the ways God has blessed us, if he or she knew of God’s actions in his or her personal history, and if they had any sense, they would indeed choose to follow God. Anyone who understood God’s past actions on their behalf would decide to trust God with their future.
It’s been said that deciding to follow God involves a “leap of faith,” but the Bible doesn’t teach this. Don’t get me wrong. God’s Word does tell us that faith is necessary for salvation. But there is not much of a “leap” involved because it is a reasonable faith. In essence the Bible says, “Look at what God has done for you in history. It’s all written down here for you. Read it. See all that God has done. Reason about these things and make your decision.”
The Bible does not abandon evidence. It doesn’t leave us with nothing on which to base our decision as to whether or not to give God our life. No. It builds faith on reason. As Josh McDowell put it years ago, the gospel story contains clear “Evidence that Demands a Verdict.”
Massey H. Shepherd writes,
“The Gospel is not presented to mankind as an argument about religious principles. Nor is it offered as a philosophy of life. Christianity is a witness to certain facts, to events that have happened, to hopes that have been fulfilled, to realities that have been experienced, to a Person Who has lived and died and been raised from the dead to reign forever.”
As you evaluate the level of your commitment to follow God in life, I challenge you to review your own personal history so that you can see all that God has done for you! And if you’re having trouble, I would give you a hint. James 1:17 says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father Who does not change.” So, if there is anything good or perfect in your life you would be foolish to take credit for it, because the Bible reminds us that God gave all that to you!
God could say, “I gave you that food you ate for breakfast this morning! I gave you the warm bed you slept in last night! I gave you that home with central air and heat! I gave you that closet full of clothes and that refrigerator full of food! I gave you that job! I gave you those cars you drive! I made it possible for you to fill their tanks with gasoline! I gave you your mind, body, arms, legs and the air in your lungs! And do you remember that problem you wrestled with a few months ago-that nightmare-that is now only an unpleasant memory? I resolved that for you! I helped you through that tough time and all the tough times that came before it! I gave you that wife! I gave you that husband! I gave you those precious children! And lest you forget My perfect gift to you, I gave you My only Son. I sent Him to die for Your sins so that I could remove the sin barrier that exists between us and give you eternal life!”
Every good thing in life is from God — every good gift. And, if that weren’t enough to base your decision on, of course the perfect gift of Jesus is from God as well.
Will you thank God for all he’s done for you and choose to serve him? I have made that choice and I hope you will too.