Twenty-Fifth Sunday after Pentecost: Joshua 24:1-3a, 14-25; Psalm 78:1-7 or Amos 5:18-24; Psalm 70; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Matthew 25:1-13
Let us serve the Lord all the days of our life.
Close to the end of his life, Joshua commits himself and his family to the Lord (Joshua 24:15, 29). Moved by his example, the people commit themselves to the Lord (Joshua 24:16-18, 21, 24). For Israel, this was a momentous decision - a definite, public commitment to the Lord (Joshua 24:24-27). Note the pattern of Joshua’s preaching. What God has done for Israel (Joshua 24:2-13) is followed by ‘Therefore...’ (Joshua 24:14). When we are called to make a real commitment, we must ask the searching question, ‘Do I really mean it’ (Joshua 24:19-20). We must commit ourselves to the Lord: ‘Fear the Lord, and serve Him in sincerity and in faithfulness’ (Joshua 24:14). Make your own commitment to the Lord. Give your testimony - ‘as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord’. Pray that others will also say, ‘We will serve the Lord our God and obey Him (Joshua 24:15, 24). Let us ‘serve the Lord all the days’ of our life (Joshua 24:31).
We are strengthened for God’s service when we drink from the cup of salvation.
‘Can God spread a table in the wilderness?’ (Psalm 78:19). We are living in a spiritual wilderness. We wonder, ‘Can God continue to bless us in this wilderness?’ How does God’s Word answer our question? - ‘You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies’. In the ‘wilderness’, there are many ‘enemies’. There is also the ‘table’. At the ‘table’, God blesses us - ‘You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows’ (Psalm 23:5). We are in the ‘wilderness’, surrounded by many ‘enemies’. What are we to do? - We must come to the ‘table’ - the Lord’s Table. We must come to Christ. We must drink from ‘the cup of salvation’ (Psalm 116:7). Come to the Saviour. Look to Him for His blessing. He will not disappoint you. You will be ‘anointed with the oil of gladness’. His blessing will be poured upon you ‘like precious oil’ (Psalms 45:7; 133:2).
Drinking from the cup of salvation, we commit ourselves to a life of obedience.
‘Seek the Lord and live’. ‘Seek good, not evil...’ (Amos 5:6, 14). Those who truly seek the Lord are to live a godly life. God sees right through hypocritical religion. He is not pleased with it: ‘I hate your show and pretence - your hypocrisy of ‘honouring’ Me with your religious feasts and solemn assemblies... Away with your hymns of praise - they are mere noise to My ears. I will not listen to your music, no matter how lovely it is’ (Amos 5:21, 23). God is looking for true obedience: ‘a mighty flood of justice - a torrent of doing good’ - ‘Let justice flow like a river and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream’ (Amos 5:24). God speaks to us about our sins - ‘Many and great are your sins. I know them so well’ - so that we might learn to ‘hate evil’and ‘love good’ (Amos 5:12, 15).
As we drink from the cup of salvation, we are led in the way of victory.
David is in great danger. His life is being threatened by his enemies (Psalm 70:2). We might expect that he would be depressed. Far from it! Rather than being preoccupied with his own problems, he is calling on God’s people to worship the Lord with joy: ‘May all who seek You, rejoice and be glad in You! May those who love Your salvation continually say, “God is great!”’ (Psalm 70:4). How was David able to rise above his own problems and call the Lord’s people to worship? - He knew that the Lord was his ‘Rock of refuge’, his ‘strong Fortress’ (Psalm 71:3). Like David, we may face ‘many terrible troubles’. Let us learn, like David, to praise the Lord and look to Him to lead us in the way of victory: ‘You have done great things, O God... You will revive me again’ (Psalm 71:19-20).
Drinking from the cup of salvation, we are reminded of God’s faithfulness.
Do you feel like giving up? God is not about to give up on you: ‘He who calls you is utterly faithful and He will finish what He set out to do’ (1 Thessalonians 5:23). He has a great future for us: ‘God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ’ (1 Thessalonians 5:9). We look forward to the Return of our Lord Jesus Christ: ‘The Lord Himself will descend from heaven’ (1 Thessalonians 4:16). We look forward to heavenly and eternal glory: ‘We shall always be with the Lord’ (1 Thessalonians 4:17). This is the kind of encouragement we need. We are to remind one another of these things: ‘Comfort one another with these words’ (1 Thessalonians 4:18). We are ‘to encourage one another’ to go on with the Lord. Let’s ‘build one another up’, encouraging each other to build on ‘the Rock’ which is ‘Christ’ (1 Thessalonians 5:11; 1 Corinthians 10:3; Matthew 7:24-27).
As we drink from the cup of salvation, we build on Christ, the solid Rock.
‘The times they are-a-changing’. There is, however, one thing that remains constant. Jesus says, ‘My words will not pass away’ (Matthew 24:35). In an age of unbelief, our faith is often under threat. We must stand upon this solid Rock: ‘The Word of the Lord stands forever’ (1 Peter 1:25). The scoffers will say, ‘Where is the promise of His coming?’ (2 Peter 3:3-4). We are to believe that ‘He is near’ (Matthew 24:33). Christ has risen. He will return (1 Corinthians 15:20-23). When He returns need not concern us: ‘the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect’ (Matthew 24:44). We are to be ready at all times (Matthew 25:13) - doing the Lord's will (Matthew 24:46). We are to be ‘faithful and wise’ (Matthew 24:45). As ‘the bride of Christ’ (Revelation 19:7; 21:2), we await the Return of Christ our Bridegroom: ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet Him’ (Matthew 25:6).