This article forms part of the Choosing Each Day reading plan series.
How do you wake up most mornings? Do you use an alarm of some sort? Do you hit snooze once, twice, seven times? Do you lie in bed to “thaw out” for a few minutes or do you get right up? There are obviously many ways to wake up, but most of us probably lie in bed for a moment to orient ourselves. As you start the process of orienting yourself, do you being to think about your day and all that is before you? Where do your thoughts go as your mind becomes alert?
We have a choice to make every day, every morning when we wake up. Will it be God or will it be self?
It is amazing how quickly we can make ourselves, our schedules, or our to-do lists first in our thoughts and priorities. How often do we think of ourselves first and then maybe later at some point give a passing thought to God whom we proclaim as Lord and Saviour?
What about you? What is foremost in your mind and heart when you wake up? Who comes first? How do you spend the start of your day? Over the next couple of days we are going to look at a practical way we can choose each day to be less self-focused and more God-focused.
Begin today by taking a moment to identify the things, the thoughts, the activities, or the emotions that can consume you and keep you from worshipping God and serving Him.
I have two alarms. As part of the iOS 11 alarm capabilities, my Bedtime is defined as 11:30pm with a wake notification triggered at 5:55am. As a separate discrete function, I have a weekday alarm that triggers at 5:58am. Thus, I have a lifestyle where I allow myself time to thaw out, by design. Sometimes I will wake up before either alarm has triggered, other times the sleepiness causes me “hit snooze” for the first trigger and then use the second to force myself out of bed.
Part of the morning routine is still yet to establish properly for 2018 because of work circumstances. Whilst I will not divulge too many details here, the short of it is that currently, the traditional need and driver to be up early at 6am is somewhat lacking. On this first day of the devotion/reading plan, I already knew I could adopt a relatively relaxing morning routine because I was leaving the car at home and trying out a whole day of public transportation – bus to the train station and then train into work. Traditionally, the driver for me rising up at 6am is to ensure I can park my car at the train station.
Partly, I end by day thinking about the plans for the next day ahead. Since I drive and park at a train station, my program after work influences my decision on where and which station I will take a train into the city and work. If I am on my usual Glen Waverley line then the likelihood is that I need to be more disciplined in waking up at 6am to ensure I can park, whereas if my destination train station is Clayton, and the Cranbourne/Pakenham line, I know I can relax more since I would park next to Clayton Church.
In this way, a lot of the above reflects a practical and logistical thought process for the day, even if much of the thinking transpires the night before. It is indeed my schedule and to-do list that takes first priority. Thinking about God is definitely mixed in to the various thoughts I have as I wake up, the only thing is that it is more front and centre and an active thought process which I actively spend time on necessarily.
Partly the way this devotional series is structured, it suggests the choice is a black or white, binary selection. I make the case that in fact, it is not such. Instead, at least, the way I try to justify my current behaviour and attitude is that God is infused into a lot of what I do. Much of my life is geared and oriented around a God-centred lifestyle. Therefore, whilst I may not actively think and worship God and have the specific explicit thought that this morning is a time when I worship God before moving onto other things, my worship of God is infused into my whole lifestyle.
I trust in God implicitly that the plans I have for the day will honour Him; that if I meet people that God draws my attention to, I will have my heart and eyes open to being obedient to Him. So, my approach to this topic may or may not be the way it has been designed, but I like to think that I am not distracted from God by things of this world. However, I do appreciate the reminder and nature of this series where it compels me to reconsider my attitudes and behaviours – am I putting God first in all that I do? I am also reminded about the philosophy that has been adopted by many of us in the worship team – worship is a lifestyle – it infuses all that we do like the fine mist of rain which permeates everything, rather than a well defined storm or shower of rain. My whole life I pray is a lifestyle oriented around God and my whole being and life is an act of worship to Him, my Lord and Savior.
Then Joshua assembled all the tribes of Israel at Shechem. He summoned the elders, leaders, judges and officials of Israel, and they presented themselves before God.
Joshua said to all the people, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Long ago your ancestors, including Terah the father of Abraham and Nahor, lived beyond the Euphrates River and worshiped other gods. But I took your father Abraham from the land beyond the Euphrates and led him throughout Canaan and gave him many descendants. I gave him Isaac, and to Isaac I gave Jacob and Esau. I assigned the hill country of Seir to Esau, but Jacob and his family went down to Egypt.
“‘Then I sent Moses and Aaron, and I afflicted the Egyptians by what I did there, and I brought you out. When I brought your people out of Egypt, you came to the sea, and the Egyptians pursued them with chariots and horsemen as far as the Red Sea. But they cried to the Lord for help, and he put darkness between you and the Egyptians; he brought the sea over them and covered them. You saw with your own eyes what I did to the Egyptians. Then you lived in the wilderness for a long time.
“‘I brought you to the land of the Amorites who lived east of the Jordan. They fought against you, but I gave them into your hands. I destroyed them from before you, and you took possession of their land. When Balak son of Zippor, the king of Moab, prepared to fight against Israel, he sent for Balaam son of Beor to put a curse on you. But I would not listen to Balaam, so he blessed you again and again, and I delivered you out of his hand.
“‘Then you crossed the Jordan and came to Jericho. The citizens of Jericho fought against you, as did also the Amorites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hittites, Girgashites, Hivites and Jebusites, but I gave them into your hands. I sent the hornet ahead of you, which drove them out before you—also the two Amorite kings. You did not do it with your own sword and bow. So I gave you a land on which you did not toil and cities you did not build; and you live in them and eat from vineyards and olive groves that you did not plant.’
“Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
Analysis & Commentary
Reading this passage you may recognise it for the final verse which is super-famous in its abbreviated format:
As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord
In providing the full context for this key verse, we can appreciate the journey that Joshua is reflecting on – the hardships and challenges the Israelites faced, the Exodus out of Egypt into the Promise Land. All the success that has led them to this point in time, was a testament to God’s faithfulness and grace. Given all this history, the challenge and choice is put forth: choose who you serve – God or something/someone else. Joshua’s position is bold and declarative – he has chosen and continues to choose serving God.
The act of making a choice has a number of characteristics:
- Divine in its objective and focus: we should choose the Lord for our God.
- Rational in its character: let us wisely consider what we are doing.
- Decisive and emphatic in its nature.
- Practical in its operations. Having chosen God, serve Him. In this way, the passage ties well with the devotion topic of choosing each day.
The timing & period of choice is also driven by:
- Making our choice this day, because of the criminal neglect of which we have been guilty.
- A view of the shortness and uncertainty of our time.
- The present is the only time when God has promised the aid of His Spirit.
- The difficulty of choosing will increase in proportion to our neglect of it.
Therefore, the motives for making a choice are:
- The capacity which we have for choice is a reason for its exercise. God gives nothing in vain.
- The perilous state in which we are without this choice is another motive.
- The happiness that results from our choosing God should prompt us to comply with the requisition in the text. He who has chosen God is in a state of safety and tranquillity.