Joshua 24:1-28 – Spiritual Sugar High Sundays Followed by the Sugar Crash

Posted: July 18, 2017 in 06-Joshua
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Joshua 24:1-28

The Lord’s Covenant Renewed

It’s kind of comparable to that sugar rush you get from eating something sweet and then comes the sugar crash. That’s how we are spiritually often! Sunday mornings are our candy sugar high and then we crash during the week.

You remember the church services that you go to and wow it is like this emotional, spiritual mountaintop experience. The music, the sermon, going out to lunch with fellow worshippers and discussing what just happened at church. It was a wow experience! On the ride home, you and your spouse talk about what was said and talk about how we as a family need to follow what the preacher said. We get home. Maybe a Sunday nap. May napping in and out while the Sunday football game is on. Still got good vibrations from Sunday morning worship. But then comes calling the kids in from play. The struggle to get homework done on Sunday night. The laundry that needs to be done for the school and work week. Dinner has got to be cooked. Chores out in the yard need to be done. Take out the trash. Getting the kids bathed and in the bed. And not long after that, it’s time for you and your spouse to hit the sack. Although the fever from the Sunday service is there, it is less intense now.


Then Monday comes. It’s back to school and work. It’s soccer, football and whatever other sports your kids are into. It’s getting them to practice. It’s sitting with other parents during practice talking about Donald Trump’s latest blunder with the press, about college football, about the latest recipe on pinterest. Then it is onto the next thing. Getting home. Getting some form of dinner fixed – must be healthy, with no MSG, no GMOs, and whatever the latest healthy food trend is. Getting homework done. Where is my husband? Working late again. Damn! Husbands wondering what they will find when they get home after a grueling day at the office where the boss ripped you a new one. Getting home to find the chaos of getting homework done, dinner being cooked, frayed nerves, too much to do and not enough of us to go around, kids whining about homework cause practice ran long and they are tired. Dinner is cooked. Everybody grabs their plate and goes to their separate places. Some at the table. Some in front of the TV. Some in their room. Did you make the mortgage payment for this 5 bedroom 2 ½ bath house? Did you get the oil changed in the BMW and the Volvo. Do we have enough money left over to pay the landscaper. Did we pay the HOA fees. Where’s are the kids’ ballgames this week. Well, you will have to take Suzy and Jasmine to their games and I will have to take Hunter and Brent to their games. Don’t forget I have that thing with the guys after work on Thursday. Don’t forget I have girls night out on Friday night. We can’t make small group Sunday night because we have that party at your boss’ house. It is all a maddening cycle of repetition and working things in, of managing the chaos, of too much to do and too little time to do it, to overcommitting ourselves.


No wonder by Saturday night, you reflect back on last Sunday’s great feeling and your willingness to do things God’s way. But six days later and you go to bed and get ready to go to church the next morning. You forgot what had you on such a spiritual high after church last Sunday. That seems so far away. You hope that you can rekindle it at church this Sunday. You need your weekly pick me up. You love Sunday morning at church cause for one thing, it is the one 3 hour stretch in your week that you and your family don’t really have to do anything but sit and listen, and the kids don’t get graded for what they do. Sunday morning church is your down time (provided there is not a softball or soccer or cheerleading tournament in a location six hours away or an away game for your favorite college team or you get the chance to go to the lake with friends). But you are there most Sundays. It really is a time for decompression isn’t it. It’s quiet time. A cup of joe from the coffee bar. A sweet Danish. Man, that air conditioning feels good. Man, these theatre seats sure are comfortable. Then the music starts. These guys are good. I heard that song on my Christian channel on Pandora this week. Love it. Love it. Love it! Oh this is the worship band’s new song. I think it like it. I really do. Oh here comes the giving talk. Divert attention by talking to wife or husband about where to go to lunch. Feel guilty about why I don’t have enough money to give to the church. Then, the pastor really knocks a home run with his sermon. Man, he really gets me. Man, he is really challenging me this week. I will do better. I promise. Rinse and Repeat.


Is this your week? Is this your spiritual life? Do you have peaks and valleys? Would you love to have the faith that Joe Super Christian has or that the pastor has but you just can’t fit it in? Well, that is what I thought of when I read this passage this morning, Joshua 24:1-28. The Israelites have their Sunday morning spiritual high here near the end of Joshua, but the one thing that stuck in my mind and was that last verse. Then Joshua concluded the ceremony and sent the people on their way. Knowing generally what happens next in Israel’s history in Judges, things didn’t go as planned in Judges. It reminded me of how we get our spiritual highs on Sunday morning and then by the following Saturday night life has taken its toll and nothing has changed in us. Many of us find ourselves there. Let’s read through this passage with that motif in mind:

24 Then Joshua assembled all the tribes of Israel at Shechem. He summoned the elders, leaders, judges and officials of Israel, and they presented themselves before God.


2 Joshua said to all the people, “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. 3 But I took your father Abraham from the land beyond the Euphrates and led him throughout Canaan and gave him many descendants. I gave him Isaac, 4 and to Isaac I gave Jacob and Esau. I assigned the hill country of Seir to Esau, but Jacob and his family went down to Egypt.


5 “‘Then I sent Moses and Aaron, and I afflicted the Egyptians by what I did there, and I brought you out. 6 When I brought your people out of Egypt, you came to the sea, and the Egyptians pursued them with chariots and horsemen[a] as far as the Red Sea.[b] 7 But they cried to the Lord for help, and he put darkness between you and the Egyptians; he brought the sea over them and covered them. You saw with your own eyes what I did to the Egyptians. Then you lived in the wilderness for a long time.


8 “‘I brought you to the land of the Amorites who lived east of the Jordan. They fought against you, but I gave them into your hands. I destroyed them from before you, and you took possession of their land. 9 When Balak son of Zippor, the king of Moab, prepared to fight against Israel, he sent for Balaam son of Beor to put a curse on you. 10 But I would not listen to Balaam, so he blessed you again and again, and I delivered you out of his hand.


11 “‘Then you crossed the Jordan and came to Jericho. The citizens of Jericho fought against you, as did also the Amorites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hittites, Girgashites, Hivites and Jebusites, but I gave them into your hands. 12 I sent the hornet ahead of you, which drove them out before you—also the two Amorite kings. You did not do it with your own sword and bow. 13 So I gave you a land on which you did not toil and cities you did not build; and you live in them and eat from vineyards and olive groves that you did not plant.’


14 “Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. 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.”


16 Then the people answered, “Far be it from us to forsake the Lord to serve other gods! 17 It was the Lord our God himself who brought us and our parents up out of Egypt, from that land of slavery, and performed those great signs before our eyes. He protected us on our entire journey and among all the nations through which we traveled. 18 And the Lord drove out before us all the nations, including the Amorites, who lived in the land. We too will serve the Lord, because he is our God.”


19 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. 20 If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, he will turn and bring disaster on you and make an end of you, after he has been good to you.”


21 But the people said to Joshua, “No! We will serve the Lord.”


22 Then Joshua said, “You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen to serve the Lord.”


“Yes, we are witnesses,” they replied.


23 “Now then,” said Joshua, “throw away the foreign gods that are among you and yield your hearts to the Lord, the God of Israel.”


24 And the people said to Joshua, “We will serve the Lord our God and obey him.”


25 On that day Joshua made a covenant for the people, and there at Shechem he reaffirmed for them decrees and laws. 26 And Joshua recorded these things in the Book of the Law of God. Then he took a large stone and set it up there under the oak near the holy place of the Lord.


27 “See!” he said to all the people. “This stone will be a witness against us. It has heard all the words the Lord has said to us. It will be a witness against you if you are untrue to your God.”


28 Then Joshua dismissed the people, each to their own inheritance.


In this passage, we see that the covenant between Israel and God was that the people would worship and obey God alone. Their purpose was to become a holy nation that would influence the rest of the world for God. The conquest of Canaan was a means to achieve this purpose, but Israel became preoccupied with the land and lost sight of God. The same can happen in our lives. We can start off with the greatest of intentions but somewhere along the way we forget to glorify God. It is easy to slip into quiet rebellion against the Lord and then one day we realize that we have wandered away from God. We may commit to follow God’s Word and be all fired up on Sunday but by Monday afternoon we are back to our normal selves when we do not really change, seek God in prayer, meditate upon His Word, and seek fellowship with other believers.


Why is it that we find it hard to stay on that spiritual high that we find ourselves in (like the Israelites here in this passage). We want to stay in that cocoon moment of emotional spirit that we often have on Sunday morning. We want to bottle that and take it with us. But it never works out that way. We fall back into our normal ways of thinking and doing. Our normal ways of what’s important in our lives. We wonder why we can maintain that spiritual feeling that we get on Sunday morning. Meanwhile, kids activities take number one spot every night. Job requirements take precedence. Our favorite hobbies take precedence. Our beautiful house, our beautiful wife, our beautiful clothes, our boat, our friends, our hobbies, our sports teams, our internet, our live stream, our Saturday filled with football games from College Game Day til you go to bed at 1am Sunday morning, its our family at separate ends of the house, its our video games, its our downloads, its our earbuds, its our checking social media and texting each other when we are the same room. When’s the last time, we prayed alone or even as a family? When’s the last time we studied God’s Word. When’s the last time we had to buy a new Bible because our old one wore out? When’s the last time we set aside time to study God’s Word alone as well as a family?


The Israelites fell into idolatry and turned away from God because they did not practice honoring God. They did not practice putting God first in their lives. We cannot ride our Sunday spiritual highs during the week without there being real change in our lives. We must take time and carve out time to be in God’s Word daily. We must carve out time to pray. I mean really pray. Not just calling intermittently talking to God throughout the day (though we should do that too) but really taking time out of our day to get quiet with the Lord and really pray. Just like losing weight requires lifestyle changes and when we don’t change our lifestyle we wonder why we are not losing weight so it is with our relationship with God. If we want to be closer to God, we gotta put Him first. God should not be a squeeze-in a few hours on a Sunday morning God. He should be the central core of our life. Everything should take a back seat to Him in everything. When we crowd him out with our gods – and we have them — our stuff, our activities, our children even, our spouse even, anything that we put in front of God. When we have a squeeze-in God, we ride a spiritual rollercoaster. We need to make God front row and center in our lives and we will find that our mind has been renewed. No longer on the rollercoaster. We study God’s Word. We pray. We talk about God daily. We make Him part of everything. We prioritize God first and our family activities second. When we put God first daily, you know, our kids begin to see that and begin to follow suit. It is up to us as fathers and mothers and husbands and wives to say, stop the madness and put God first. When we do (and it takes time to get our priorities in order), we will find blessing and peace and a constancy to our faith. It is not something we squeeze in any longer. It is who our family is – God first, everything else in its proper order after that.


Let us not be like Israel who has its spiritual high here but goes its own way after that. Let us not be rollercoaster, spiritual high thrill seekers. Let us be about placing God as our top priority everyday.


Amen and Amen.

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