READ: Joshua 23-24
THINK: How often do you do things because you have to, and how often do you do things because you want to? Which is easier and more fulfilling? Unless you're a glutton for punishment, you probably find greater satisfaction in things you really love doing. That's what God intends for your relationship with Him. While following the Lord won't always be easy, He wants you to do it out of sincere love for Him. Love and gratitude are the most effective motivations for serving God and obeying His Word (23:6) and avoiding evil influences (23:7,12). Trying to serve God simply out of a sense of duty or obligation can rob you of joy and cause you to depend on your own faulty efforts. But serving God out of love will provide the inspiration you need to stay spiritually strong.
RESPOND: How were the Israelites able to conquer the promised land (23:3)? What cautions did Joshua give in his final address (23:6-8,11)? Why were the Israelites to refrain from associating with the remaining Canaanites (23:7,8)? In what way does love for God provide strength and inspiration to obey Him? (See 23:11 note.) What would happen if the Israelites made alliances with the Canaanites? (See 23:12 note.) In what kinds of perverse behavior were the Canaanites involved, and why would this tempt the Israelites? (See 23:12 note, subpoint 2.) How do God's promises bring judgment as well as blessing? (See 23:13 note.) What must God's people do to receive and maintain the benefits of God's promises (23:14-16)? Why did Joshua review Israel's history? (See 24:1 note.) How can reminding yourself of God's faithfulness in the past inspire your faith for the future? With what ultimate life choice did Joshua challenge the Israelites, and how would it affect their future (24:15)? In what way must followers of Christ make the choice on a continual basis? (See 24:15 note.) Do you think the Israelites were sincere in promising to serve God? Why or why not? How can people with good intentions get so easily and quickly sidetracked? (See 24:16 note.) How can Jesus' followers today guard against the tendency to forsake God? In what way has God made a covenant with Jesus' followers, and what commitments do He and they make to each other? (See 24:25 note.)
PRAY: Thank Jesus that you can rely on His power to accomplish His purposes and gain spiritual victory. Pray for discretion to avoid things, people or situations that could compromise your faith or pull you away from Christ. Also, ask Him to help you serve His purposes out of love, not simply out of obligation.
ACT: Do you have an "alliance" with anyone or anything that could weaken your relationship with God? In other words, are there habits, behaviors, activities, objects or people that you've allowed into your life that are exerting ungodly influence on you while not bringing you any closer to Christ? Perhaps you feel that these things are just neutral and aren't doing one thing or the other in regard to your relationship with Christ. But these things can become dead weight in your walk with Jesus, holding you back from God's best for your life. While you should have friendships that allow you to influence others for Christ, you shouldn't stay connected to anyone or anything that compromises your commitment to Him. Get rid of it or get out of it-before it gets the best of you.
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