Serve the Lord

Joshua 24:14-18

14 “Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

16 Then the people answered, “Far be it from us to forsake the Lord to serve other gods! 17 It was the Lord our God himself who brought us and our parents 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. 18 And the Lord drove out before us all the nations, including the Amorites, who lived in the land. We too will serve the Lord, because he is our God.”

Serving with Gladness

A Christian had a car accident. For 3-years he had amnesia or loss of memory. Miraculously, he recovered. Because of that, he and his family devoted themselves in serving the Lord in whatever capacity they can. He claims Joshua 24:15 as his life verse.

When we came to this church, your dedication in serving the Lord, reminded me of believers with similar devotion in serving the Lord. Let’s pray that more families will choose and find the joy of serving the Lord in this church eventually.

Joshua discovered that serving the Lord with devotion was favourable to him and his family. He encouraged the Israelites to do the same. Joshua led by example.

1. Lead

14 “Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

Joshua instructed the Israelites to serve with all faithfulness. Partial faithfulness or reluctant service exposes human efforts. Serving the Lord demonstrates that faith in Him is not dead. Service to the Lord is a personal decision inspired by the Spirit of Christ. Such service is acceptable to God when we abide with the instruction of God.

It says in Deuteronomy 10:12, 12 What does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul,

We can serve God with all our hearts only when we rely upon God’s grace, and we serve Him with cheerfulness and spontaneity. Believers are parts of the church—the body of Christ. Parts of healthy body move spontaneously. Similarly, church members get involved spontaneously. Tricky pressure is unnecessary. God’s grace compels service.

Joshua decided for his household to serve the Lord. His household included his family, servants and relatives living under his care and support. They may or may not have family agreement. Joshua may have required his household to follow his lead. He was confident that everyone under his care has decided to serve the Lord.

Joshua knew what service with all faithfulness means because he served as assistant to Moses. Whatever Moses told him, he followed. He did not insist on his ideas even if they seem to be brilliant to him. He served to please his master.

When Moses chose 70 elders, the Spirit of the Lord rested on them but two among those 70 elders remained in the camp and did not go out to the Tent of Meeting. Yet the Spirit of the Lord rested on them too, and they prophesied in the camp.

In Numbers 11:27-30, 27 A young man ran and told Moses, “Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.” 28 Joshua son of Nun, who had been Moses’ aide since youth, spoke up and said, “Moses, my lord, stop them!” 29 But Moses replied, “Are you jealous for my sake? I wish that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the Lord would put his Spirit on them!” 30 Then Moses and the elders of Israel returned to the camp.

Why was it that Joshua did not want those 2 elders to prophesy? When the two elders stayed in the camp and did not join the other chosen elders in the Tent of Meeting when Moses called them, Joshua might have assumed or even observed that those two elders were rebellious or insubordinate to Moses.

Joshua was very zealous in his service as Moses’ assistant, and he wanted others to follow their leader Moses like he did. Such suggestion to stop Eldad and Medad may not necessarily come from the Lord but could have developed from Joshua’s zealous service.

As the leader of the Israelites that God has chosen, Moses sensed the zealousness of Joshua but he prioritized the work of God rather than the suggestion of Joshua.

That example of Moses in serving God rather than pleasing people may have influenced Joshua and his household in their decision to serve that Lord.

Another example of Joshua’s devotion to the Lord is written in Exodus 33:11, 11The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent.

Moses may have or may not have instructed Joshua not to leave the tent. We can only interpret that Joshua followed the instructions of Moses. Such obedience of service is what Joshua wanted to see from the Israelites. The Israelites followed his example.

2. Follow

16 Then the people answered, “Far be it from us to forsake the Lord to serve other gods! 17 It was the Lord our God himself who brought us and our parents 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. 18 And the Lord drove out before us all the nations, including the Amorites, who lived in the land. We too will serve the Lord, because he is our God.”

What could be more encouraging for leaders like Joshua than to hear God’s people declaring their desire to serve the Lord? The desire of the Israelites to serve the Lord must have been ignited when they acknowledged that the Lord is their God.

Their desire to serve the Lord became more energized when they remembered the goodness of God for them. They recalled and remembered when they escaped from the Egyptian, when they saw the miracles of God, when God protected them from their enemies, and when the Lord drove away all nations who lived in Canaan.

It says in Psalm 48:14, 14 For this God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end.

It says also in Psalm 16:2, I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.”

Indeed, the Israelites who promised Joshua that they will serve the Lord were faithful. They served God during Joshua’s lifetime. By God’s grace, we serve faithfully.

Paul testified in 1 Corinthians 15:9-10,  9For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.

Burnout

How far have you explored God’s grace? Not a few full-time church workers and missionaries complained of burnout. Burnout reveals that human effort is exhausted. Despite human limitation and in spite of many challenges, God’s grace sustains us to serve Him faithfully. The Lord is more than enough help for us to serve Him devotedly.

Isaiah declared more dramatically the Lord’s work in his life. In Isaiah 50:4-10, The Sovereign Lord has given me a well-instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed. The Sovereign Lord has opened my ears; I have not been rebellious, I have not turned away. I offered my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard; I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting. Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame. He who vindicates me is near. Who then will bring charges against me? Let us face each other! Who is my accuser? Let him confront me! It is the Sovereign Lord who helps me. Who will condemn me? They will all wear out like a garment; the moths will eat them up. 10 Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the word of his servant? Let the one who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord and rely on their God.

Serving the Lord by faith is spontaneous and not forced. We can maximize our privileges as believers, when we rely upon the Lord instead of our human expertise.

Sometimes, we hesitate to serve God because we made terrible mistakes. We hate embarrassment. We don’t want others to laugh at us. We would rather step aside or stay in the sideline to escape the spotlight, why? Because oftentimes, we forget that mistakes reveal our human limitations. Limitations should lead us to seek grace from our Lord.

Paul testified in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Some people presume that Paul was insulted because of his physical appearance, height, or the way he speaks. Other’s accused him as delusional or had mental illness. Nevertheless, Paul served the Lord because he experienced the sufficiency of God’s grace.

What is it that may discourage you to serve God? Ask the Lord to strengthen your faith, fill you with His Holy Spirit and let His Spirit bear fruit in your life. When love, joy, peace becomes apparent, serving God in specific ministries will be spontaneous.

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