Wednesday, April 22, 2015

APRIL 22 "ARE YOU RELIGIOUS?"

     It's hard to imagine Abraham ever serving any other God but Jehovah, but he did and so did all his family.  “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."  Often people look at our families and can't imagine us being anything other than Christian. Some of us grew up Christian as our heritage, the rest of us served the gods on the other side of the river, so to speak. We have seen what it is like so serve a false god or give ourselves to impotent religion. In our text we are not sure why these people are holding on to relics of their past gods and religion; while trying to serve the true God.  And when challenged by Joshua to throw down their idols and relics there is no argument from them.  "throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. 15 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.”  OF course this scripture is quoted all over the world, posted on the doors of many homes, but the reality is, it was only Joshua that would actually follow through. The moment Joshua passed away they would go back to their false gods.  No doubt a Leader makes a difference, but we must be able ourselves to make the distinction between what it is like to be involved in impotent religion and serving false gods verses having a living, vital relationship with God.  Perhaps to the majority of those following Joshua they couldn't really see or better yet, hadn't really experienced the difference between the two, ie: false god vs. true God.  This is why perhaps Jehovah Witnesses marry Catholics and Catholics marry Mormons and Mormons marry Pentecostals and Pentecostals marry Baptists and Baptists marry Atheists because in their minds, all we are talking about is religion, and one religion is just about as good as another. I can just hear this group of people saying to Joshua, "On the other side of the river we served these gods, but we can serve your God too, Joshua, we have no problem with that, right guys?"  As the very popular cliche of today goes..."it's all good".   Is it all good?  Human beings are by instinct, very religious in nature.  Find any tribe in any part of the world and you will find them worshiping some kind of spiritual deity. These people were living out what came naturally to them, being religious, however Joshua had an encounter, a relationship with God.  If we are not careful, we can sit in the church and revert back to being religious, even those of us that saw what it was like to serve the false gods on the other side of the river (so to speak). It is your natural tendency to revert back to being religious. Abraham never went back to being religious, Joshua never went back to being religious but there are many who do.  Our prayers can become religious repetition (Jesus said, "do not pray in vain repetition as the pagans do"), our mindset in church can be religious repetition, blessing our food can become religious repetition, worshiping can become religious repetition (our right hand is raised, but we are looking away from the screen and our minds are a million miles away) and our walk with God becomes more of a religious experience than anything else.  In my home one of the greatest insults we can throw at each other is..."you're religious" sometimes we through this around in jest, my daughter will laugh and say, "oh dad, you're so religious" but sometimes it is good to just sit down, be quite, be still before the Lord and ask yourself, " am I losing my relationship with God and reverting back to being religious", take an assessment, an evaluation of your self today and answer that question.  I've often wondered about putting that scripture on my front door "as for me and my house....." but my experience from the past 20 years has been that many times the homes I have walked in to that had that on their front door are simply the people who nodded their heads with Joshua on that day and said "amen", carved it out of wood, put in on their doors and became incessantly religious from that day forth. Joshua carved this principle in his heart, not on wood or a plank, he probably carved it on his heart every morning, taking time to be with God, I'm still tempted, at times to put that scripture/plank  on the front door of my house and this should only serve to remind me how important it is that I use that as a reminder of how prone I am to becoming religious and how much more so I should seek God and make sure that scripture is carved in my heart, not on a wooden door. I would much rather people walking into my home, with no advance declaration on my front door and then be wowed to see Christ Like people living in the home, then to see a declaration on the door (that often the folks living inside forget is there) walk in with great expectations of they type of Godly people you would run into, only to realize, that the only sign of God in that home is hanging on the front door.