Thursday 7th March
Hebrews 12:3, Joshua 24:2-15
A friend of mine shared an amazing story with me yesterday. Her encouraging words prompted me to share her story with you as I feel it links in well with our passage this morning.
Her church was hosting a weekend away conference. On the Saturday there was an opportunity to either play sports, go for a walk or stay indoors to do some crafts. Neither one appealed to my friend. She is currently suffering from cancer and physical exercise easily tires her. The only option left was crafts but this too was not ideal as she says she is not good with her hands. The object of the craft was to take a piece of string and some-how design a cross-like shape by weaving the string together. There were only one or two people in the room with her. They finished in less than 30 minutes leaving my friend highly discouraged. She began muttering under breath of her discontentment and felt like giving up. Unknown to her, there was someone else in the room who had been listening to her grumblings. The room started to fill up with a few more people eager to make cross’ from the string.
Suddenly the person who was in the room with my friend from the beginning came up to her and said, “I have been watching you get frustrated. You don’t have to give up because you have cancer…. Do you know that you can persevere? Look what is in your hands. You can persevere because of the cross.” At these words her heart was greatly encouraged and she continued until she had finished. What took others 30 minutes took her 2 hours and 30 minutes but the lesson learnt was priceless. Our situations might look bleak and hopeless; we might be suffering with long-term sicknesses or financial difficulties but when we look to the cross we can persevere. Jesus has gone before us, tempted and tried in every way so we don’t have to struggle. Instead we can look to the cross, draw strength from the risen King and rejoice in the victory won.
Joshua’s final message to the Israelites, after they conquered all their enemies and distributed the lands to all the tribes of Israel, was to encourage his people to put the Lord first in their hearts and lives. Joshua reminds them of their history from the days of Abraham to the saving grace shown to them as they were led out of Egypt en route to the Promised Land. Joshua reminds his people of God’s faithfulness towards them as they journeyed through the wilderness and even after they had crossed the River Jordan and defeated the people of Jericho.
Then in verse 13 his speech reaches its climax. He tells them how God gave them land that they did not labour for, cities they did not build, food and drink from vineyards and olives groves that they did not plant. God had been merciful and faithful towards His chosen people. However Joshua reminds them that their forefathers missed out on God’s inheritance for them because of their rebellion to Him in worshipping unknown and foreign gods. He warns them to stay away form such idols but that the decision was their own. He had made a decision for his family that they were going to worship and serve the Lord. Verse 15, my favourite verse, says this “You know God’s faithfulness and how He never gave up on you. You can serve the empty idols but you know what, as for me and my house, we are going to serve the Lord” (paraphrased).
This morning I want to ask you a question. Whom will you serve? Will you serve and submit to the hardships and trials in your lives? Or will you chose to serve the Lord God Almighty who endured the cross to make it possible for you to persevere? Don’t give up on God, He never gives up on us.