On this website, there is a list of 12 countries where it is considered ‘Extremely Challenging’ to worship God, and there are an additional 38 countries where it is ‘Difficult’ to worship God. I believe that most of you who will read, or listen to, this devotional probably attend worship services at least 3 times per year, I wonder how you might classify your reasons for not always join with God’s people for cooperate worship?


DATE POSTED Wednesday, 2021-09-08
WRITTEN AT: Okeechobee, FL

BY: Ed Algreen


SCRIPTURE FROM: Joshua 24:19-23
TRANSLATION: New Century Version (NCV)


BIBLE TEXT: 19 Then Joshua said, “You are not able to serve the Lord, because he is a holy God and a jealous God. If you turn against him and sin, he will not forgive you. 20 If you leave the Lord and serve other gods, he will send you great trouble. The Lord may have been good to you, but if you turn against him, he will destroy you.”  21 But the people said to Joshua, “No! We will serve the Lord.”  22 Then Joshua said, “You are your own witnesses that you have chosen to serve the Lord.”  The people said, “Yes, we are.”  23 Then Joshua said, “Now throw away the gods that you have. Love the Lord, the God of Israel, with all your heart.”


APPLICATION: Do you tend to feel uneasy in the company of certain individuals? Perhaps they are very rich, compared to you. Or perhaps they are overly educated, compared to you. In some of Joshua’s final talks with the Israelites, he challenged them to consider their acts of worship to a holy and jealous God. How might you respond to that question? I for one, feel very uneasy if I flippantly miss attending corporate worship, or a daily reading of the Word of God, or daily communication with God in prayer. Some might quickly respond that I may be too legalistic about my relationship with God, but I could only evaluate my own feelings towards my holy and righteous God, and so should you. Notice that Joshua gave a reason why the Israelites may not be worthy of worshipping God – idols. I know, we don’t build idols for people to go and worship, but don’t we honestly allow certain things in life to interfere with our time alone, or corporately with God? Joshua knew that some Israelites collected idols from the countries they had captured, and they worshiped those idols at times. But Joshua felt such a love for his people that he wanted to warn them one last time that our Heavenly Father will not tolerate split allegiances. Why do you suppose? I believe we could look at a very familiar relationship, husband and wife, and understand why no one tolerates this. Imagine a cheating husband. Can a wife notice the difference in their relationship when a man is also having relations with another woman? Although she may not care to acknowledge why her husband is trying to please two women, she would really have to be blind in many ways to not feel and understand that someone else is in the picture. Our God sacrificed His only Son for our salvation, so He will become very jealous of one who shows only half-hearted praise and allegiance in return. I believe that when we split allegiance, we are saying that the primary party no longer meets our needs. Could we truly say that to God? But don’t we do exactly that when we consider other pleasures ahead of the pleasure of worshiping our Savior and Lord? There are many ‘excuses’ that we use to explain why we chose not to read our Bibles, or pray, or attend corporate worship. I find it very interesting when children start using the excuses of their parents when asked if they went to church. But isn’t that what we are doing when we tell our kids to watch closely and do what we do? Paul also said something like that, but he was referring to his walk with the Lord. Oh how I wish we could set aside all excuses (idols) and be so committed to God that we could say openly to those who know us, just follow me as I follow God. Wow, don’t you know that God will smile with pride for his kids who are so dedicated to Him?


BLESSING(S) NOTED: Joshua challenged the Israelites to always choose God and do away with idols. In one of their last promises to Joshua, the people assured him (vs 21): ‘we will serve the Lord’. God still blesses the nation that sets aside its idols and collectively say ‘we will serve the Lord’!


PRAYER: Lord, I pray that with our mouths we may say like the Israelites ‘We will serve the Lord’, and then set aside our idols and worship only You! To do this as a nation, we will have to set aside our petty differences between each other so that we could encourage each other to also set as their primary goal: Worship to the Father and to the Son, for as long as we all are left to wander on this earth. Please soften our hearts Lord and teach us to set our priorities straight. God comes first, even if it means less TV or less online activity, or less partying, or less beach time. Unfortunately, it seems like everything else is a priority, even though You gave it all for us. Please forgive us Lord, and please deal in our hearts to always keep You first in every aspect of our lives. AMEN!

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