My oldest has become more independent this summer. I’ve started leaving her at home with her younger siblings to babysit while I run errands. It has been a tremendous help. Whether I leave for a few minutes or an hour, we run through the instructions as I walk out the door. Keep your iPod with you so if I text, you hear it right away. No one eats. No crafting. Be kind. Boys, listen to your sister. That covers it on most occasions. I know they’ve heard these all before, but a fresh reminder is important before I leave.
God’s word is kind of like that for me. I’ve heard the stories and the instructions before, many of them too many times to count, but sometimes, I need a fresh reminder. I found such a reminder in Joshua this week as I read the last chapter with my boys. At the end of his life, as Joshua is walking out the door, these are the instructions he leaves for God’s people, “Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness” (Joshua 24:14a). As I studied this verse, three words really hit me: therefore, sincerity, and faithfulness. Though I’ve heard these instructions before, this time something new stirred my heart.
therefore. . .
Before leaving his instructions to fear and serve the Lord, he uses the word “therefore,” indicating that he has just explained why they should fear and serve. In the previous verses, Joshua retold the story of how God chose Abraham to be the father of the Israelites, how He led His people out of Egypt, and how He defeated army after army in order to deliver the promised land to them. Therefore, they should worship the Lord by fearing and serving Him.
Sometimes when I’m stuck in the trenches of a battle, or simply in the middle of the mundane, I forget about the therefore. I forget the many ways God has provided for me. I forget that He chose me, He has led me, and He has defeated the armies of satan to bring me to His kingdom. I tend to forget how He answered my prayers for children, jobs, and friends, or how He provided financially when we took a risk to obey His call for me to quit teaching. Oh, how I forget.
I don’t know what your therefore is. Maybe, like me, you’ve forgotten. Take a minute to reflect. Focus on these things, list them out, and let the Lord’s love sink deep into your soul.
Remember that God has chosen YOU, He has led YOU, and He has fought satan for YOUR soul.
Therefore, we will fear the Lord and serve Him in sincerity and faithfulness.
in sincerity. . .
Joshua instructs the people to serve the Lord in sincerity. He doesn’t want us building altars so everyone can see our worship. He doesn’t want us to simply check things off the trying-to-be-holy list. He doesn’t want our superficial service.
Our Lord wants us to love Him with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our strength. He desires us to serve Him with genuine gratitude for the gift of salvation and grace. We act out of sincere love because He first loved us.
Can we do a heart check real quick? Think about the last time you served the Lord. Maybe you served directly through your church: signed up for a committee, added your name to a meal list, or volunteered for a project. Did you do it in hopes that others would recognize your efforts to be a good Christian? Did you sign up because you felt guilty letting other people do the work of the church? Or maybe you served the Lord by serving your family: cooking yet another meal that went unappreciated, a load of last-minute laundry because some forgot they needed that certain shirt clean, or chauffeuring the kids here and there for activities. Did you serve feeling more like you had to than wanted to? Did you serve with a smile or an annoyed scowl? Did you even realize that these acts could be done in service to the Lord?
I sometimes get so caught up in doing it all that I forget to do it with all my heart, with all my soul, and with all my strength in sincere service to the Lord.
Ephesians 6:7 reminds us to, “Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people.” Serving those around us with sincerity is serving the Lord with sincerity. Maybe we need to reevaluate what serving the Lord looks like and then work to serve Him in sincerity.
in faithfulness. . .
Faithful. This adjective more accurately describes God than it does me. A quick Google search of “Bible verses about God’s faithfulness” reveals websites with lists of 8, 15, 20, 21, even 49 verses describing His faithfulness. God is faithful, and in this life, it should be our aim to be more like Him, so it makes sense that Joshua would instruct us to serve the Lord in faithfulness. Our Creator, who designed us in His image, shows us what faithfulness really means by showing up in our lives time and time again. (Remember your therefore?) We can faithfully serve Him because He has been faithful to us.
So what does serving the Lord faithfully mean? It means being aware of what He is calling you to do and then being obedient. Being faithful through obedience. . . that’s where I struggle. I can hear God’s voice calling me. I can feel in my soul where He wants me to go. But to be obedient to that call, to be faithful to serve the Lord, that’s hard. Friends, if you feel God pulling your heart to service, be faithful to step, run, or jump in the direction He is leading.
You can be assured, that if He has called you there, the way is already prepared, and the timing has already been arranged.
Let Hebrews 13:21 assure you that the Lord will “equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”
Now, friends, therefore let us fear and serve our Lord. Let us serve Him in sincerity even in the little things. Let us serve Him in faithfulness as a response to the faithfulness He has shown us. And above all, let us give glory to Him.