Sunday, January 22, 2017

Greater Love

Joshua 24

I am not the world's strongest record keeper.  Yes, I can keep track of the checkbook and make sure all the bills are paid on time, but a record keeper, like say a baby book, not so much.  I always thought, "I'll remember when it happened."  Here's what I learned the hard way:  Mommy brains don't remember anything.  Ever.  Unless it comes to a health matter.  Then we are hyper aware of everything related.  This is why I have one sort of worked on baby book and one that has a name and a couple stats.  Sad but true.

As I read Joshua 24, I see him recounting all of the things the Lord did before the Israelites through their journey into the promised land.  Battles won, enemies subdued, promises made and kept.  This pep talk before his death was done to reinforce what they knew and hold them accountable for the commitment they were about to make.

In Joshua 24:23, he gives the people some sound advice.  "Throw away the foreign gods that are among you and yield your hearts to the LORD, the God of Israel."

While we might not be inclined to think that foreign gods are among us the way they were in Joshua's time, we certainly have them.  They may not be idols fashioned from gold or silver made by human hands in a fire, but we certainly put plenty above the position only God should have in our lives.  Money, power, possessions, status, etc.  Anything that takes the place only He deserves is an idol.

Yielding our hearts is not something we can do independently.  We need God to guide us through it and we need the encouragement and accountability others can provide.  It's not about who can follow the most rules, it's about deciding that what He says is best for us really is what is going to bring us the abundant life Jesus promised to give us in full.

Each of us has areas where we are off track.  We need to be honest with ourselves as to where they are and seek God on how to re-route.  It might not be the most pleasant thing we do, and the process will likely be a bit painful.  But the reality is, if we lay down our rights and our lives, the glory that shines in us is used to help another.

John 15:13 says, "Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends."  So the only question that remains is this:  What are we willing to lay down for the benefit each other?  For our friends, our neighbors, our spouses, our kids.

Jesus, the thought of sharing in your sufferings by giving up and laying down the things that are difficult for us is overwhelming.  But we know that in Your strength we can do it.  Help us to see not only the areas where we need to re-route, but also the truth that You are going to lead us through it, empower us to do it, and cover us with your grace as we endure it.  It's in Your powerful name we pray.  Amen.

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