Peace

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In the past 4 days, I have been continually hit by peace and unity.  These words have shown up as the topic of Sundays sermon, Bible study, different scriptures and other teachings I listen to. With all that is going on in our world, this does not surprise me. I do not have any desire to go down a political road and honestly, the pure hate I see in disagreeing parties is heartbreaking.  So many times I want to cover my eyes and ears to block it all out. I am by no means in the dark, but am fully convinced that all this hate has us playing right into the hand of satan. What are we to do?

As a mom during this time, I am convicted that I have a responsibility to the children entrusted to me that our home will be a place of peace and unity, as far as it depends on me. There is little I can do politically,  but there is much to do at home. Sometimes I think the other would be easier, especially the hour before dinner. So, how do we bring peace and unity into our home? It is a choice we have to make in my opinion.

My mom and dad made us a sign for Christmas one year. It has Joshua 24:15 painted on it in my moms beautiful script. I’ll back up to the verse before it first where Joshua is speaking before the Israelites. “Therefore, fear the Lord and worship him in sincerity and truth. Get rid of the gods your fathers worshipped beyond the Euphrates River and Egypt, and worship the Lord.” (Joshua 24:14). The Israelites needed a reminder of who they were to worship and so do we. The verse my mom painted says, “But if it doesn’t please you to worship the Lord, choose for yourselves today: Which will you worship – the gods of your fathers worshipped beyond the Euphrates River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living? As for me and my family, we will worship the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15). Who will you worship? Our family has chosen to worship the Lord!

To the world this choice is unpopular and might look like we are very concerned about what we can and can not do. However, I have never been more free. I very much relate to the verses that follow. “The people replied, “We will certainly not abandon the Lord to worship other gods! For the Lord our God brought us and our fathers out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery, and performed these great signs before our eyes. He also protected us all along the way we went and among all the peoples whose lands we traveled through. The Lord drove out before us all the peoples, including the Amorites who lived in this land. We too will worship the Lord, because he is our God.” (Joshua 24:16-18)

Just imagining this scene between Joshua and the children of Israel is incredible to me.    To give you a better picture, look at the beginning of the chapter. Joshua says to them, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says…” (Joshua 24:2) and gives words of remembrance. When he gets to the part about their time in the wilderness, it is only one sentence. Forty years of wilderness wandering because of their disobedience and all the Lord says is, “After that, you lived in the wilderness a long time.” (Joshua 24:7). Now that is grace my friend. When God says, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” (Psalm 103:12), I think he means it. No matter how long you have served and worshipped other gods, you can today leave the wilderness and step into the land, so to speak, he has planned for you. The other choice is to keep serving yourself, idols and all the other gods that lead to slavery. Your home will not be a place of peace and my guess is that you will be very lonely.

After the Israelites declare that God is their God and it is him they will worship, Joshua says the most interesting thing. “But Joshua told the people, ‘You will not be able to worship the Lord, because he is a holy God. He is a jealous God, he will not forgive your transgressions and sins. If you abandon the Lord and worship foreign gods, he will turn against you, harm you, and completely destroy you, after he has been good to you.” (Joshua 24:19-20). What? This doesn’t sound a bit loving. However, God had told them, just as he tells us, “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them.” (Exodus 20:4-5a). God is the only one we are to worship. When we decide to follow other gods and disobey, there are consequences and the loss of peace is one of many.

Watch how the people responded and I pray this is our response as well.  “No! The people answered Joshua. ‘We will worship the Lord.’ Joshua then told the people, ‘You are witnesses against yourselves that you yourselves have chosen to worship the Lord.’ ‘We are witnesses,’ they said. ‘Then get rid of the foreign gods that are among you and turn your hearts to the Lord, the God of Israel.’ So the people said to Joshua, ‘We will worship the Lord our God and obey him.” (Joshua 24:21-24).

“On that day Joshua made a covenant for the people at Shechem and established a statute and ordinance for them. Joshua recorded these things in the book of the law of God; he also took a large stone and set it up there under the oak at the sanctuary of the Lord. And Joshua said to all the people, ‘You see this stone – it will be a witness against us, for it has heard all the words the Lord said to us, and it will be a witness against you, so that you will not deny your God. Then Joshua sent the people away, each to his own inheritance. ” (Joshua 24:25-28). Do you wonder what the conversations were like as the people headed back to their homes? I wonder if they are discussing what they would need to get rid of materially and spiritually speaking? I know in the past fews days,  I’ve had to repent of somethings that I needed to get rid of. A judgmental attitude for one and the areas where I have not been loving, just to name a few.

I also love the stone of remembrance Joshua sets up. The sign my parents made, acts as a stone for us. I pray that each one of us choose this day whom we will serve. For our family, we say along with the people of Israel, “We will worship the Lord our God and obey him.” (Joshua 24:24).

 

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