“’So now: Fear God. Worship him in total commitment. Get rid of the gods your ancestors worshiped on the far side of The River (the Euphrates) and in Egypt. You, worship God. If you decide that it’s a bad thing to worship God, then choose a god you’d rather serve—and do it today. Choose one of the gods your ancestors worshiped from the country beyond The River, or one of the gods of the Amorites, on whose land you’re now living. As for me and my family, we’ll worship God.’
The people answered, ‘We’d never forsake God! Never! We’d never leave God to worship other gods. God is our God! He brought up our ancestors from Egypt and from slave conditions. He did all those great signs while we watched. He has kept his eye on us all along the roads we’ve traveled and among the nations we’ve passed through. Just for us he drove out all the nations, Amorites and all, who lived in the land. Count us in: We too are going to worship God. He’s our God.’
Then Joshua told the people: “You can’t do it; you’re not able to worship God. He is a holy God. He is a jealous God. He won’t put up with your fooling around and sinning. When you leave God and take up the worship of foreign gods, he’ll turn right around and come down on you hard. He’ll put an end to you—and after all the good he has done for you!”
But the people told Joshua: “No! No! We worship God!”
And so Joshua addressed the people: “You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen God for yourselves—to worship him.”
And they said, “We are witnesses.”
Joshua said, “Now get rid of all the foreign gods you have with you. Say an unqualified Yes to God, the God of Israel.”
The people answered Joshua, “We will worship God. What he says, we’ll do.”
Joshua completed a Covenant for the people that day there at Shechem. He made it official, spelling it out in detail. Joshua wrote out all the directions and regulations into the Book of The Revelation of God. Then he took a large stone and set it up under the oak that was in the holy place of God. Joshua spoke to all the people: ‘This stone is a witness against us. It has heard every word that God has said to us. It is a standing witness against you lest you cheat on your God’.” Joshua 24:14-27 (MSG)
On a regular basis, people want your “yes.” Maybe you are asked to get involved in the parent’s group at your child’s school, volunteer at your church, or help your neighbor move. While helping others is an opportunity to serve, sometimes there are just too many requests. If we are not careful, all our time can be spent saying “yes” to commitments, while we brush aside the most important thing.
When Joshua was approaching the end of his life, he challenged the people of Israel to follow God. As Joshua recounted the ways that God had been faithful to bring them out of Egypt and into the Promised Land, the people were resolute in their commitment to serve God. But, Joshua was concerned, because he knew that the temptation to follow other gods would be ever present. He knew that it required the people to say an “unqualified yes” to God and follow him with all their heart. After the people of Israel made this commitment to follow God, Joshua set up a stone as a monument to remind the people of their committment. Every time the people passed the old oak with the large stone, they would be able to tell their children and grandchildren about their commitment to follow God.
We have the same opportunity to serve God as the people of Israel did. But, for some, it’s time to draw a line in the sand and wholeheartedly commit to God. Saying yes to God comes from the heart, because there is an element of faith and trust in who God is that is required. We might not be setting up idols in our homes, but they might creep into our hearts. We might not think we are saying no to God, but we are caught up saying yes to everything but Him. Walking with God is comprised of saying yes to Him over and over again. Our story begins to evolve as we look to God and say yes out of obedience, even if our hands are trembling, voice is shaking, and our faith is small. And usually our yes has very little to do with what we bring to the table; it has much more to do with what God can do in and through us. It might require us to set up “faith markers” in our lives so that every time we pass them, we are reminded of God’s faithfulness. Maybe you put a picture of an answered prayer on your desk at work. You could have a journal that retells the stories of God’s goodness. You could have a location that you visit that represents God working in your life. The object is not the recipient of our worship; it simply serves as a reminder that God has not given up on us when the days become long and our hearts become weary. We first say an unqualified yes to God when we acknowledge Jesus as our Savior. Then, we have the opportunity every day of our lives to keep saying yes to God again and again. For you, the very best thing you could do might be to say no to something so that you don’t brush your relationship with God under the rug. There are some things that you can “get to later,” but He is not one of them. As we shift our mindset and realize it’s not about earning our relationship with Him, our lives are open to receive grace, even though we are unqualified by our sin. While there are many things in our lives that vie for our attention, never forget the most important yes is to Jesus.
Scripture taken from THE MESSAGE. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.