Editor’s Note: Here’s the second part of a topic from the “phone-based” Sunday School lesson prepared for August 8, 2020.
In yesterday’s article, we looked at how Joshua (see Joshua 24) brought the Israelite leaders through a process of understanding and commitment to serve God, who had done so much for them (yet they still had the choice whether or not to follow Him).
A compelling message wasn’t enough. An easy decision wasn’t enough. In order for this commitment to be understood, and for the people who were involved to remain faithful to it, there were several steps.
In the same way, the next time you hear a preacher deliver a sermon, or a teacher deliver a lesson, remember that this does not change things on its own. More than just listening to a good message, our obedience to God may very well follow the same path as the Israelites:
Truth and examples of God’s faithfulness. We have God’s truth and many examples of His faithfulness in the Bible. In addition to that, we have the testimony of others, who have taught us this truth and shared with us how God has been faithful to His promises in their lives.
A charge to be faithful to God. Learning facts is the start, but at some point, we were invited to give our lives over to God, and obey Him. Maybe you had a friend or minister invite you to make that change in your life, or maybe God Himself drew you to Him. Jesus talks of standing at the door and knocking (Revelation 3:20), so even if we don’t think that anyone has invited us to follow Him, He invites us Himself.
A decision and commitment to do so. Next is where change can actually happen. When given the choice to follow the truth and surrender to God, we get to decide whether or not we will do so. This is the point where someone else’s efforts must give way to our own. Others can teach us and invite us, but we must take the step of accepting that invitation, and choosing to receive it (which includes a commitment to change our focus and our behavior).
A reminder of this covenant. As human beings, we are forgetful. Without regular practice and reminders, we can fall away from many good habits. (Just ask many of those who were getting out and trying to be healthy at the gym, before stay-at-home rules kicked in.) God knows that regular reminders and testimonies help us stay focused on Him, including practices like regular Bible reading, fellowship with others, and the Lord’s Supper.
This isn’t the end of the story, though. Even for those who have learned about Jesus, accepted Him, and work daily to live for Him, the process shouldn’t stop there. Once we have received restoration with God and committed ourselves to following Him, we can pick up at the start of this process, as we tell others the truth about God, and how He has been faithful to us.
When we re-start this process, the cycle continues, and more people have the opportunity to make this life-changing decision. What we receive, we pass on to others.
For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,
1 Corinthians 15:3-4 NIV
God is faithful, but then He gives us a choice. Not only must we choose for ourselves whether or not we serve Him (not just acknowledge Him, but actually serve Him), but we also need to testify about Him to the generations that follow us, so that – while they still have their own choice to make – they will not fall away without being given the opportunity to do the right thing and live in God’s blessing.
Be like Joshua, who witnessed God’s faithfulness, committed himself and his family to serving the Lord, and who made a specific effort to lead others into that same walk.
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.