Joshua 24: Who Will You Serve?

Read: Joshua 24

Read: Joshua 24: Joshua is old, and is about to die in chapter 24. He had spent his life witnessing the wonders of God in Egypt, Sinai, and the conquest of Israel – the fulfillment of the promises of God that he had given to the forefathers of the Israelites. Joshua recounts the promises and providences of God in the first 13 verses, then he launches in to an ultimatum for Israel: “choose for yourselves today whom you will serve” (Joshua 24:15). They had the option to either serve the God that brought them out of Egypt and had given them the land of Canaan, or choose to serve a foreign god. The people of Israel affirm in solemnly in Joshua 24:24 that they will serve God.

While Israel is affirming a commitment to follow God, Joshua reckons that they cannot serve God because he is holy and jealous. In other words, God does not tolerate sin nor does he tolerate the worship of other gods. Joshua makes a stone tablet to remind them of this day so that they will testify against themselves whenever they do turn away from God. The book of Joshua does note that Israel did serve God while Joshua lived, despite a few occasions where they did mess up (Joshua 24:31).

The book of Joshua is the story of a courageous and obedient group of people following a courageous and obedient man, and is packed with timeless truths about obedience and the blessings of obedience, and these timeless truths are reflected in the New Testament as well, even the reckoning to choose what one will serve. Jesus says that man cannot serve two masters, and in particular mentions God and wealth (Matthew 6:19-24). The issue here had to do with where one’s heart was focused. Jesus encouraged people to store up treasure in heaven rather than on earth and to indulge one’s eyes on things that corrupt the body, rather that which fills the body with “light”, that is good things. Christians today have to choose for themselves whom they will serve: the Lord or something else.  God hasn’t changed. He’s still a jealous and holy. And the choice is still clear because of what the Lord has done for those who believe and received the blessings of salvation and have become joint heirs with Christ in the Kingdom of God (Romans 8:17)!

Lord, I choose to serve you!

2 Timothy 1:1-7: Reminders

Read: 2 Timothy 1:1-7

Paul introduces himself in the letter to Timothy as an apostle of Jesus Christ and addresses the letter to Timothy his “beloved son”. Timothy and Paul had a tight-knit relationship. Paul first encountered Timothy in Lystra (Acts 16:1). Timothy apparently had been raised by his mother with a deep respect for the Jewish faith out of which Paul had come although his father was a Greek. Timothy is mentioned in the salutations of five in the New Testament letters including 2 Corinthians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians. He also served as Paul’s emissary on a number of occasions to these churches (1 Corinthians 4:17, 1 Corinthians 16:10, Philippians 2:19, 1 Thessalonians 3:1-4). The father-son relationship between these two men is cemented as Paul raised up Timothy as his spiritual child. In the same manner in which a parent longs to see their children after a long time of absence, Paul longs to see Timothy, who brings joy to Paul’s life by Paul merely thinking about the faith that was passed down to him by his grandmother and mother and is now present in Timothy.

Paul wants to remind Timothy here of the things that Paul had given him by the laying on of hands. Paul also reminds him elsewhere to not neglect the gifts he had received earlier in (1 Timothy 4:14). These gifts are spiritual gifts that had been bestowed upon Timothy. Paul does not mention what these gifts are, but he wants to remind him because of the faith that Timothy had similar to his mother and grandmother. He wants Timothy to “kindle afresh” the gifts – that is to reignite them so they may burn and be used with power. Spiritual gifts are received every Christian for the purpose of serving the body (1 Corinthians 12:7, 1 Peter 4:10). Paul says that Timothy should ignite his gifts because the God did not give a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, love, and discipline (self-control, sober-mindedness). Paul and Timothy were a powerful force, enabled by God’s. They exercised love and thought clearly in the manner of all manners pertaining to the mission that they were a part of.

Christians today have the same faith that Paul and Timothy had. Because of the same faith is shared, Christians can do as Paul did when times are hard: remind others or remember for themselves the Spirit that is within them, the gifts they have, and the love they have for one another. When hardship applies pressure to one’s life it is difficult to see through the fog that can cloud one’s mind. It is difficult to remember all that one has available in his or her arsenal to combat hardship. When others are under duress, one can spur them on, reminding them all the good things God has given them and exercise one’s own giftedness towards the one enduring hard times. These kinds of reminders are healthy, and can make all the difference in how one approaches the hardships in life!

Lord, remind me of the powerful resources you have given me, especially when I and others need them!