Monday 5 June 2017

Holy God (Elohim Kedoshim)

This is the second out of two devotionals written for our church camp (8-12 Jun 2017).

Joshua 24:15b, 19, 21, 23
“... as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua said to the people, “You are not able to serve the Lord. He is a holy God; he is a jealous God. He will not forgive your rebellion and your sins.” But the people said to Joshua, “No! We will serve the Lord.” “Now then,” said Joshua, “throw away the foreign gods that are among you and yield your hearts to the Lord, the God of Israel.”

Joshua and his family was committed to serving God but he questioned the people’s ability to do so. It required them to dispose of all other gods in their possession and give themselves wholly to the holy God. ‘Yielding your hearts to the Lord’ is not just the outward act of throwing away physical idols and gods, it is more importantly the cleansing and complete submission of our hearts to God. He has to be our top priority, our main focus in life. Anything else that takes His place in importance inadvertently becomes an idol, and it would need to be cast off too.

Leviticus 11:42, 44a
You are not to eat any creature that moves along the ground, ... it is unclean. I am the Lord your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy.

In addition, worshipping the holy God meant that the Israelites had to keep themselves holy by avoiding any food that would make them unclean. However, it is not only the external things we consume that defile us, so can the thoughts and desires from within us.

Mark 7:21-23
For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come - sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.

So if wholehearted worship is what we want to model to our children, let us do some spiritual spring cleaning and throw out anything that has taken God’s place in our hearts or that makes us unclean. Only by keeping ourselves and our children pure would we then be able to pass on a legacy of true religion to the future generations.

James 1:27
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

  1. What are the things you need to dispose of, both for yourself and your family?
    • ‘gods’ that have become more important than serving God (eg fulfilling your own or your children’s needs and wants, keeping up with societal expectations)
    • anything unclean you or your family members are consuming (eg clothes, films, social media)
    • any thoughts and desires which may defile you before God

  1. What steps do you need to take to ensure that you and your family worship God only and keep yourselves holy and pure?

O holy God, forgive me and my family for worshipping ‘idols’ and placing them above You, for the unclean things that we consume, and for our defiling thoughts and desires! Cleanse us and give us the ability to keep ourselves holy and pure. Remove the wrong thinking and temptations which lead us away from worshipping You and You alone. Please come and take Your rightful place as King and Lord over our hearts and our lives, for our generation and the generations to come!

The Lord, the God of your fathers (Jehovah Elohei Abothekem)

This is the first out of two devotionals written for our church camp (8-12 Jun 2017).

Joshua 18:2-3
But there remained among the children of Israel seven tribes which had not yet received their inheritance. Then Joshua said to the children of Israel: “How long will you neglect to go and possess the land which the Lord God of your fathers has given you?

God often referred to Himself as ‘the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob’. He is the God of generations because He is faithful through the generations. He keeps the promises He made to one generation for generations to come! So when Joshua called Him ‘the Lord God of your fathers’, he was pointing to how God had been faithful to all the previous generations before them. Hence the Israelites could continue to trust in Him that He would surely fulfill every promise He had made to them regarding the possession of the Promised Land.

Yet the Israelites hesitated. They had ‘neglected to go and possess the land’ that God had already promised to give to them. Perhaps they were afraid of the resistance they might face from the people who were already residing in the towns and villages. That was why Joshua had to remind them of the faithfulness of the God of their fathers, the same God who had led them on the Jericho walk and made the walls fall down!

This also goes to show that not only is God faithful, He requires us to be faithful to Him too! If the Israelites had not followed His instructions and marched around Jericho faithfully for seven days, they would not have experienced the victory that God had prepared for them. Hence, Joshua was challenging them once more to go and take the land by faith so they would see the hand of God yet again. Otherwise, they would never be able to possess the land they had been promised.

Joshua 21:43‭-‬45
So the Lord gave Israel all the land he had sworn to give their ancestors, and they took possession of it and settled there. The Lord gave them rest on every side, just as he had sworn to their ancestors. Not one of their enemies withstood them; the Lord gave all their enemies into their hands. Not one of all the Lord’s good promises to Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.

True enough, the moment they acted in faith, God came through and every promise He had made since Abraham was fulfilled! And future generations would look back and remember how the God of their fathers had been given the Promised Land.

  1. Can you identify the spiritual fathers/mothers in your family or community? How has God been faithful to the generations of believers before you?

  1. How have your spiritual fathers/mothers been faithful to God’s calling on their lives and what impact has that made on your own spiritual journey?

  1. In what areas of your life is God calling you to respond to Him in faithfulness? How do you think your obedience to God will affect the faith of your children and future generations to come?

O Lord, the God of my spiritual fathers and mothers, thank you for Your faithfulness through the generations and thank You for the faithfulness of the past generations of believers! Please grant me the faith to trust in and obey Your every prompting. May my faithfulness inspire the faith of my children and generations to come!