Sunday, March 12, 2017

serve for a lifetime and beyond

Israel served the Lord throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the elders who outlived him and who had experienced everything the Lord had done for Israel.
Joshua 24:31 NIV

I always find something that stands out or challenges me when I read through the Old Testament and the recount of the Israelites. This time, as I reached the end of Joshua and read chapter 24, verse 31 struck my interest. Is real served the Lord during Joshua's life time and during the lifetime of  the elders who outlived him and had experienced everything the Lord had done. They served because they had seen God perform miracles, like parting the waters, delivering enemies into their hand, the walls of Jericho fall after they marched around them, and God's  promised land delivered to them.  They had experienced  God.  But, when you keep reading into the next book, the book of Judges, immediately you find that the Israelites  had strayed. They were odd serving Ball and Ashterah. They had left God.  I started to wonder and ask why, when I realized  a key word in the verse above. "Experience. "

Those that stayed with God after Joshua died had experienced God. Those who followed later did not stay with God.

Why hadn't they experienced God? It makes me wonder, had the elders forgotten to pass on their own experiences? Had the elders forgotten to teach the next generation about God Almighty or shared their experiences with their children?  I don't really know the answer to this, but I do know I can find that God did gave commands to the Israelites to teach their children the statutes of God.

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord  is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
Deuteronomy 6:4‭-‬9 NKJV

When God  spoke the law for Israel, it was meant to be taught to the next generation, it was meant to be passed down and carried on. His law was to cherished, loved, and placed deep in the heart for each generation to love the Lord God.  In Deuteronomy, we can read that Moses recounted all the events that had transpired while he lead the people so they would all recall it, remember God's mighty deeds, and that they were chosen people.  Joshua also recounted the history of God's deliverance before his death to the whole collection of Israel. He ended with a challenge to the people:

“Now therefore, fear the Lord , serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord ! And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord , choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord .”
Joshua 24:14‭-‬15 NKJV

The people that heard him, responded that they would serve the Lord.  While those that spoke those words, kept this commitment, their children and their grandchildren did not. They strayed to the idols.  Perhaps the elders after Joshua forgot to declare to their children the great deliverance of God, to share their experiences.

This gives a greater challenge to make sure I take the time to declare the mighty deeds of God to my children.  I need to teach them the statutes  of  God.  I need to write them on the walls of my home and keep them before my eyes.  I need to hide the word in my heart and let my children see it in action in my life.  I need to share with them how God delivered me and spared my life. I need to share with them the stories of what God has done for me and what I have experienced.  I need to teach them the miracles I have seen  and the stories of how God has provided for us.  I need to be sure they have an experience with the word of God and with God, that will be life long. An experience and understanding that will carry them through the difficult times, through the moments of trials and temptation and give them the strength to stand for God for a lifetime.  I want to see them carry on this word of God to teach their own children. I want them to be able to say to their children, that God delivered them and recount the mighty blessings of God.  I don't want to fail my children
by not sharing my experiences of God. How will they know if I don't  tell them?

How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “ Lord , who has believed our report?” So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
Romans 10:14‭-‬17 NKJV

I will choose to be the preacher of the Word to my children. I will make sure they have heard, so that faith can come to their hearts.  I will show them and tell them  that God is the Almighty One, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, that He is my Savior and the one who changed my life.  They will learn my experiences and be able to say that God did great things for my parents. I hope they will be able to say, "Yes, we will serve the Lord!"