The Palestine Herald, Palestine, Texas

August 17, 2013

INSTANT MESSAGE: Choose You This Day

By CRAIG HARRIS
Palestine Herald-Press

PALESTINE — Joshua 24: 14-15 (NIV): 14 "Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the 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 forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD."

This is at the end of Joshua's life. He was reminding the people that God had answered their prayers and had brought them to the Promised Land. God had freed them from slavery, parted the Red Sea for them to cross, fed and sustained them through 40 years in the desert, helped them defeat their enemies, given them Jericho and placed them in the land. Now it was up to them to choose whom they would worship.

Joshua told them to choose between God and the gods of their forefathers. We are still tempted to this day to worship as our families do. If our parents do not fear God, it is a temptation for us to follow their example. This is why Jesus said, "do not think that I came to bring peace on earth, but a sword..." (Matthew 10:34). Jesus said he would cause strife in families because not everyone will choose to worship God alone.

Some Israelites would be tempted to worship the local, Amorite, gods. These were pagan idols. We are all tempted to follow the culture around us and adopt its attitude toward God and faith. In our culture today, we see many who pursue wealth and fame and pleasure instead of worshiping the true God. The media makes it sound like we are simpletons or bigots if we believe in God and serve him alone. Movies make it look like we are missing out on life if we love God with all of our hearts.

So whom do you choose? Will you give God all of your heart or will you worship idols and the false gods of your culture? God has given us the right to choose. We must make up our own minds, but we must understand that there are consequences to our decisions. As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.

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Autographed copies of Craig's fiction novel The Dead Peasants File are for sale at Blaser's Books in downtown Palestine. Harris is the pastor at Brushy Creek and Mt. Vernon United Methodist Churches.