Jump Start # 2068
Joshua 24:24 “The people said to Joshua, ‘We will serve the Lord our God and we will obey His voice.’”
We finished a study of Joshua last evening in our Bible class. Great study. The last chapter is a powerful reminder of how God chose Israel, led Israel, blessed Israel and protected Israel. Joshua then puts before the people a decision, a choice. Who are you going to serve? Three times the nation replies, ‘We will serve the Lord.’
The choice of words in this last section is impressive. Joshua doesn’t ask, “Who do you believe?” The question is, ‘Who will you serve?’ Serving God is repeated over and over in this final chapter. We serve God is what the people proclaim. Joshua declared, ‘As for me and my house, we will SERVE the Lord.’
Folks don’t talk like that today. We don’t hear people saying, “I serve the Lord.” And, maybe that’s something that has gotten away from us and has gotten us into the messy places we are in. Sunday, there will be many CEO’s at church. Across the country CEO’s from all corners of life will make it to church services. These are not corporate CEO’s. No, rather these are CHRISTMAS and EASTER ONLY people, C.E.O. You’ll see them at Easter. The church house will be filled. I’m glad that they are there. But for many, you won’t see them again until Christmas time. Twice a year, when the world gets religious, these folks come. But the rest of the year, they are no where to be found. What a contrast to Joshua and his nation declaring we will SERVE the Lord.
Those words are opposite of where we are as a society today. Folks want to be served. They will ask, ‘what do you have for me?’ ‘What programs are there for me?’ ‘What do I get out of it?’ Me. Me. Me. Joshua was thinking about what can I do for the Lord. How can I serve the Lord? That concept sprinkles in the New Testament as Paul often referred to himself as a bond-servant of Jesus Christ. I serve the Lord. Servants of Christ. It’s not, I serve my church. It’s not, I serve my ministry. I serve the Lord.
Is that how you describe your walk with God?
What is interesting in this concept is that God first served us. That’s part of Joshua’s point in running through the history with the nation. God led. God fought. God gave. God did. He was active. He was in their lives. He took care of them. He served. In the New Testament, Jesus said that He did not come to be served, but to serve. The greatest, the Lord said, among you is the servant. The spirit of serving is often missing. To be a servant seems degrading. The very mention of slavery brings talk of things that are wrong. We push our kids to be bosses. Work for yourself. Control your own destiny. The thoughts of serving seems beneath many. Yet, we are seeing that it is the essential element of faith. We will serve the Lord.
First, we serve, because God first served us. We can never outdo God. We can never equal what God has done for us.
Second, the focus of the servant is to please his master. In this case, we serve the Lord. Joshua’s words are to get Israel to be faithful to God, obedient to God and to leave idolatry alone. What is it that God wants? That’s what the servant thinks about. It’s not about what do I want to do. You are not serving yourself. We will serve the Lord. God wants us to follow His word. God wants us to be faithful to Him. God wants us to be dependent, loyal and trust Him. God wants us to please Him.
This very thought will keep us within the boundaries of the Scriptures. It will keep a church from becoming everything else but a church. Worship will be patterned after what one finds in the N.T. The church will be governed, not by a democracy, but as God has shown in Scriptures. The function, purpose and work of the church will follow what’s in the Bible. We serve the Lord. When we leave this premise and purpose, and we stop serving the Lord, the door is open. Bring in the food. Bring in the comedy. Bring in the movies. Offer every service known to man. Take care of taxes, cars, dogs and social agendas. The focus evolves and is always fluid and changing. Leadership roles take on newer definitions. Promotional teams are hired to attract people. Big is in and keeping people happy becomes the focus. The simple Gospel message is shelved. Bring in authors, athletes and business men to tell their success stories. Have on staff people who can manage addictions, anger and dysfunction. The church becomes a happy place to be but it no longer serves the Lord. The servant is to please his master.
Third, servants understand that the master comes first. In the literal world of servants and slaves, the master is fed before the servant. The master is taken care of before the servant. In the spiritual realm, it’s pleasing God first. It’s taking care of God first. It’s putting God first. Worship, first, is about praising God the way He wants to be praised. The servant doesn’t say, “I would like to have…” Those words don’t come from the mouth of one who is a servant. Teaching God’s word accurately and carefully is what a servant does. Helping people connect to God is what a servant does. The master comes first in the world of servants.
Fourth, the servant realizes how blessed he is. There is no thought of an uprising. There is no thought of changing roles with the master. There is no thought of running away. No one has treated the servant as well as our master has. That’s Joshua’s point to the nation. Who are you going to serve is asked after a brief run down of all the things God has done for them. The gods of the Amorites hadn’t done anything. The gods beyond the river certainly were useless. The gods their fathers once followed had not been there for them. Who brought Egypt to it’s knees? Who fed Israel in the wilderness? Who took care of Jericho? Who gave Israel established cities, with homes already built, roads already paved, gardens and vineyards already planted? Once they counted their blessings, they knew that they needed to serve the Lord.
That’s where we are. Who has forgiven us? Who has kept His promises to us? Who has prepared a place for us? Who has answered our prayers? There is only one answer. We will serve the Lord.
I think it would do well if we asked people ’Do you serve the Lord?’ more than, “Do you believe in God?” Someone wants to become a Christian, ask, “Do you plan to serve the Lord?” Someone wants to be part of the church, “Do you plan to serve the Lord?” When asked, ‘what’s your church all about?’ The answer, “We serve the Lord.”
We will serve the Lord. That’s a great thought. A lot of trouble and a lot of indifference would be cast to the side of the road if we each decided to simply serve the Lord. And maybe, just maybe, the CEO crowd, would stick around for another month and start serving as well.