"As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord." Joshua 24:15
In the last chapter of the Book of Joshua, just before Joshua dies and is laid to his final rest, he summons all the people of Israel, along with their leaders and elders and judges. The Lord speaks through him, and recounts how He called their ancestor Abraham and led him to Canaan. He reminded them of their slavery in Egypt and how He brought them freedom. He also recounted how He gave them victory over the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites.
Joshua then tells them they had a decision to make. They could either serve God alone, or if they were unwilling to serve the Lord, then they should choose whom they will serve. "Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites? As for me and my family, we have decided to serve the Lord."
Indeed it is very important to make a decision. Just as when you start out on a journey, you need to know where you are going to get there, we need to make a decision about whether we will obey God or not so we will not just drift aimlessly with no direction, in our life's journey. Just as God gave the Israelites victory over their enemies, if we look back at our life, He has also given us freedom from many "ites". Personally I have been freed from "Afraidites". It took me two years to get over that movie about dead people, "The Sixth Sense". Every time I took a bath, I would think about that bathroom scene! If we are in bondage to anything, God is the only one with the power to save us!
Lord, I choose You! As for me and my family, we will serve and obey You!
"Can anything good come from Nazareth?" John 1:46
In the first chapter of the Book of John, we see how John the Baptist pointed to Jesus and his disciples started to follow Jesus. Then Andrew called Simon, and Philip looked for Nathanael. Philip was very excited as he told Nathanael (whose feast day we celebrate today), that, "We have found the very person Moses and the prophets wrote about! Have we not been waiting for Him? His name is Jesus, the son of Joseph from Nazareth."
Then Nathanael reacts with skepticism, "Can anything good come from Nazareth?" I think this is a perfectly natural reaction. The Jews had to be careful. They could not just follow anyone claiming to be the Messiah. That's why up to now, they do not believe that Jesus is the Messiah even with all the prophecies about him. They don't see the sign posts pointing to Jesus. Eventually Nathanael confesses, "Teacher, You are the Son of God!" When he does this Jesus promises him that he will see heaven open. We too can see heaven open when we try to discover for ourselves who Jesus is. God who had a plan, clearly put "signs" in the Bible, prophecies, to show us His plan and to point out the Savior!
'Make the most of every opportunity for doing good, for these are evil days." Ephesians 5:16
Most people do not like to think about "evil days" or "evil men". If we only listen to pastors of mega churches, and I do because I learn a lot from them, we won't hear much about repentance, and the urgency of coming to Christ. Ever since Jesus' time, the disciples were already waiting for Jesus' second coming. It's been 2000 years, and for sure, His coming is closer today than it was before. Jesus said these are the signs: wars and rumors of wars, famine, pestilence and earthquakes, wickedness and perversions as in the days of Noah, persecution of Christians (Matthew 24:4-45), etc. If we look at any one of these signs, we can say there has been an increase in frequency and intensity. Just for earthquakes, the number of 6.9 intensity earthquakes or stronger increased from 71 (in 38 years 1939-1975) to 164 (in 38 years 1977-2014). How about persecution of Christians? Christians are the most persecuted people on the face of the earth today, and apparently it is going to get worse, even in free America!!!
So what is the point of Ephesians 5:16? I think this is a call to lay treasures in heaven not on earth. Laying treasures on earth is a losing proposition. Next month, many prophets and financial analysts say there will be an economic collapse. What to do? Be more generous to people in need. What we give away, we will never lose! (Matthew 6:20) We need to be more conscious to do good, to serve, to pray, to share, to be kind and encouraging. It is urgent that in our little corner of the world, we shine our light to move the darkness a little bit farther!
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