Today: Psalms 55:12-23; John 3:22-36; Joshua 23 & 24
“Cast your burdens upon the LORD and He will sustain you.” Psalms 55:22
We live in a culture that extolls feelings. If it feels good do it!
But feelings are not reliable guides. When we understand that feelings are irrational fickle shifting sands, we can rise above them and not allow them to control us.
Whenever I am feeling burdened about something, for example my recent struggle about our upcoming move, I very willfully give that bad feeling to God. Instead of wallowing in and indulging the sadness, every time the sadness wells up within me I stop, pray, and give that feeling to God.
I am always amazed how quickly God is able to completely reverse my feelings when I offer them up to Him. Only God can so perfectly turn our mourning into joy.
Feelings are tricky. Some of them can be beneficial… grief, empathy, compassion. Some feel so good… joy, happiness, love. But those same feelings, if allowed to dominate our soul unchecked, can completely destroy our lives. Other feelings are just downright dangerous… hatred, envy, greed. Pride is the most dangerous feeling of all.
Some of John the Baptist’s disciples appear to have grown prideful of their teacher’s fame. They complained to John that people were starting to follow Jesus instead.
John the Baptist’s humble response is perfect. He understood who Jesus was and willingly stepped aside as Jesus’ ministry grew. John had seen the dove descend upon Jesus. He was completely confident at this point that Jesus was the promised Messiah, the Christ who “comes from above,” the one “God sent” who “speaks the words of God.” (v.34) John was the very first person to understand that “the one who believes in the Son has eternal life.” (v.36)
Joshua 23 – 24
“You have to make a choice. You cannot just drift. Many people just drift through life, never making a conscious decision.” Nicky Gumbel
“If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice!” RUSH
“Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve.” Joshua 24:15
Some feelings can really enhance our relationship with God. When I am singing and worshipping God, I just let my feelings of joy, happiness, and elation run wild. I dive into them and savor them to the fullest!
But feelings won’t get you successfully through the hard times. In fact, if you let them, feelings like sadness, anger, and bitterness, can pull you down into a pit of depression and self destruction. Following God cannot rely on feelings. We can enjoy the good feelings and learn from the bad ones as we work through them. But really following God, and sticking to it, must be a conscious CHOICE.
Joshua told the Israelites to “be very determined, then, to keep and do everything that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, so that you will not turn aside from it to the right or to the left, so that you will not associate with these nations, these which remain in you, or mention the name of their gods…” (v.6-7)
Today, Jesus has fulfilled the Book of the Law of Moses. He is the one we must choose to keep on the throne of our hearts today. Like the Israelites, today we are still called to separate ourselves from the wickedness of the culture that surrounds us and “cling to the LORD your God.” (v.8) God calls us to “take great care for yourselves that you love the LORD your God.” (v.11)
Loving God is a CHOICE. It isn’t natural and it doesn’t always come easy. It takes great care and determination. The world offers so many diversions to fill up our time. Most of them are meaningless vanities. But God implores us to choose you this day whom you will serve. Joshua responded to this call by declaring that “as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (v.15) This is my choice as well. I choose the way of life. I choose Jesus.