from my perspective…
When players don’t have their hearts in the game, they could just as well be on the sidelines. I recall in high school when we lost a couple of games – badly. Our coach said, “It’s time to get back to the fundamentals. It’s time to get back into the game.”
In Genesis 12, “The LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.” (Genesis 12:1–2, ESV) Notice God didn’t say, “I’ll make you into a prosperous people who will only live to serve themselves.” Instead, God says, “I will make you a great nation.”
The Children of Israel in the wilderness have no clue what being a great nation means. At Mt. Sinai, God comes down from heaven and surrounds the mountain. He calls Moses to come up and gives to Him the fundamental Ten Words that will make them “a great nation.” The first fundamental is to believe and trust God and what God says. “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. “You shall have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:2–3, ESV)
Even though God’s presence is with the children of Israel over the centuries, and He blesses them with prosperity, they stray. Several times in the Old Testament, they need to be saved by God from famine and enemies. Then, filled with gratitude, they recommit their lives to follow God and God’s commands. However, soon, within a generation or two, their zeal turns to complacency, and ultimately, they reject God’s way of life. Consequently, with their spirits focused on worldly things, they reject living according to God’s commands for God’s purpose. They become like children playing a game without rules or a coach. Chaos reigns and soon someone gets hurt
Joshua, strong and courageous in faith, challenged Israel to choose who they will serve: the many gods of Egypt and Canaan or the One True God who delivered them out of slavery into the Promised Land. He says, “If it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, … But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:15, ESV)
What does that have to do with this time and place? Just as God promised Abram to make him “a great nation,” in our time and place, many Americans have grown up with the firm belief that they are a great nation - we have it made - we are rich and powerful.
Consequently, many feel they don’t need God and call on Him only in times of severe trouble, like when a loved one is seriously ill. Even then, they pray half-heartedly, and in their everyday life. In their mind, they have become “like God, knowing good and evil.” (Gen. 3) They reject the need to follow His commands. They’re on the field of adversity, but they’re no longer players in the Kingdom of God, and when the forces of evil attack, the spiritually poor respond in confusion and anger.
Now is the time for the people of God to get back into the game against evil. God does not call the spiritually poor to wake up, but He calls God’s children to reengage the enemy. Jesus defined greatness in the Kingdom of God as for those who follow His commands, engage with, and serve the One true God of the universe. (Mark 10:35-45)
Join us in October as we explore the life-giving necessity of living according to God’s commandments - so that we might live for Christ, and some might be rescued from the evil of this world.
Your Pastor, Dennis.