March 25, 2020
There is an phenomena happening right now during the Coronavirus crisis that we must not miss. God is systematically stripping every god, every idol we worship, and He’s doing it all across the world. Taken away from us are our idols of sports, entertainment, health, wealth, position, and power. One-by-one we find that the things we looked to for life and meaning are suddenly gone, stripped away by a marauding army of germs that we cannot even see.
This microscopic horde is no respecter of persons. The wealthiest or the poorest are not immune. Senators in the halls of government can fall as can the check-out lady at the nearest grocery store. Money can’t buy a deliverance, nor can position or human power. We have always been powerless, but this moment is reminding us of our frailty in no uncertain terms.
THE GODS WE WORSHIP
It has always been our great dilemma. From the beginning of time right up to this hour we have wrestled between which gods we will serve. We have been tempted since the Garden to find any alternative other than the Lord God Himself. And we have bitten hard and fast at the Enemies bait. He is unconcerned about which god we follow, just as long as we do not follow the Lord God Jehovah.
Like doubting Adam and Eve, we believe Satan’s lies and turn from one false god to another. But through the mist we see humble men and women who have found God Himself. And their peace is disturbing to some and revealing to all.
Joshua was such a man. Right before his death, the godly leader warned his nation of this continual temptation and the clear choice they were facing.
Now, therefore, fear the Lord and serve Him in sincerity and truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:14-15)
Joshua understood. He saw it clearly. The people had been following false gods and they would continually be tempted to compromise their devotion to the One, True God. He outlined with stunning clarity the choice before them and called them to a response.
The great reality is that whatever god you chose you will ultimately serve. “Chose for yourself whom you will serve,” Joshua thundered.
This is not a statement of opinion but of universal fact. If you think that money can save you for instance, and you put your trust there, you will find yourself serving this god. You will live for it, thinking about it constantly. You will look to it for your salvation, vainly thinking it can provide the security you need. You will be afraid when you see it slipping away. When it goes, your security goes.
To serve something is to give it time, attention, focus, and devotion. It would be wise for us to understand right now the depth of devotion we have given to false gods and how useless they really are. They never deliver what they promise. And if we cannot see this now, when will we?
THE LORD GOD
But it would also be wise to compare every god to the Lord God. Standing away from and opposed to every god man can imagine is the Lord Himself. There is no other true God. He is the Sovereign King of heaven and earth. Nothing can touch Him; nothing can stop Him. When He determines a direction, nothing can interfere with His movement. No virus can destroy Him and no enemy can overcome Him. This is why God can make such sweeping promises through human history. He can deliver on His word, for there is no one greater.
Joshua saw this. For most of his life He had understood that there was one God worth following. His life had been a long devotion in the right direction. And now on his deathbed, he comes to remind the people of the certainty of his choice. “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord,” he announced with settled conviction.
The strength of his challenge was the compelling illustration of his own life. Unswayed by false claims of false gods, his gaze shot through the humanistic fog and turned upward. He would not turn aside to the vendors along the road. His mind was convinced, his heart set. And the people had seen the wisdom of this choice over decades of faithfulness—both his and God’s.
We are not standing within earshot of Joshua, but we can hear his timeless voice ringing in our soul right now. We must listen carefully. Our land and our people are being reminded of the choice once again. Whether or not we will fully turn to God will be seen by what happens when this momentary crisis ends. Will we run right back to our idols or will we have learned that there is only one God worth serving. And will we choose Him?
Father, You alone are the One, True God and there is no other. Forgive us for our pathetic devotion to gods of our own making. How foolish! Give us the grace to see You for who You are and to fall down in absolute, settled surrender to You. In this climactic moment of decision around the world, may You usher millions into Your kingdom and may we never return to the false deities of this world.
March 29, 2023
As a pastor for the last 55 years, I have had the joy of being encouraged and blessed and prayed for by so many people. It is what carries you in your task of shepherding people. As I look back over five decades of ministry, their love has dramatically enriched my life.
But also, a pastor leads. And when anyone leads, there are almost always some who disagree.
March 28, 2023
March 27, 2023