|Volume 22 Number 4 April 2020||
A Choice to Make (Joshua 24:14-15)
Now therefore, fear the LORD, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the LORD! And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.
Joshua called upon people to make a choice—serve the Lord, or don’t; be faithful or not; return to the gods of Egypt or choose to serve the LORD. We all have a choice to make in our lives. We can serve the Lord or we can serve Satan. We can choose righteousness or we can select depravity. Psalms 106:3 reads, “Blessed are those who keep justice, And he who does righteousness at all times!” Serving righteousness and making a choice to be righteous is not a one-time decision, but it is a path, a journey and a way of life that is chosen day after day.
A Path to Follow (Proverbs 1:1a, 2, 6)
Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly…But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night. For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, But the way of the ungodly shall perish.
Every day when we awake and face a new sunrise, we determine our path. Are we walking down Heaven’s road or are we following a well-paved path to Hell? We can choose righteousness or we can choose the easy way. “Easy Street” is calling; the path of the simple is available, but no one makes the choice for us. We choose. We have the power of choice. God is watching as a hopeful father watches his child take his first steps, knowing he will not do it perfectly, but hoping he will keep getting back up and trying again. Every day, we need to continue steadfastly on a path of righteousness. Psalm 37:23 says, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD, And He delights in his way.”
A Reward for Eternity (Psalm 37:18)
The LORD knows the days of the upright, And their inheritance shall be forever.
An inheritance awaits the righteous—the eternal abode of those who know God and love His appearing. Jesus said eternal life is to know God and Christ His Son (John 17:3). There is a reward awaiting those who fight the good fight of faith and lay hold on eternal life (2 Timothy 4:7-8).
As you make your choices, determine your path and seek your reward. May you always remember to walk according to the guidance of the Father, seek the counsel of the godly and chart your course by the light that shines from above.
The Pursuit of Excellence
David R. Kenney
The apostle Paul wrote, “And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God” (Philippians 1:9-11 NKJV). Notice the word “excellent” (diapherō), which occurs 16 times in 13 verses (KJV), and it means “differ to one’s advantage from someone or something, be worth more than, be superior to” (BDAG 239). Thayer wrote of this term: “to test, prove, the things that differ, i.e. to distinguish between good and evil, lawful and unlawful.” The pursuit of excellence is not just a business slogan or a sports adage, but it is a call that every Christian must take seriously.
On occasion, I have heard my dad talk with men about becoming preachers. He would encourage them to pursue excellence by preparing for this responsibility. I recall a conversation with one man he thought would be a good candidate for the ministry. In the course of the conversation, Dad explained that much of the work of a Gospel preacher was significant hours of study and preparation for effective delivery. The man replied he did not like to read or study. Dad demurred, “Well, then you really should not be a Gospel preacher.” Why would Dad have said such? My father (and I) believed that Christ and His church deserve the absolute best, the pursuit of excellence, in all aspects. Some seem to think that the church should accept whatever we give as preachers, or that Christ should accept less than our best efforts as members. When we needed a Savior, the Father did not send anyone but the best, His beloved Son. God deserves our absolute best. In order to offer that to Him, we need to keep a few points in mind.
First, all works are important. Certainly, the messages delivered from the preaching pulpit, the teaching lectern or the writing desk are to be dedicated to excellence, but there are other areas as well. Consider the facilities. Our stewardship of the building and grounds reflects our pursuit of excellence. There are people who judge a congregation by the condition of the yard. Pursue excellence!
Second, use your talents for Christ and His church. Have you heard about the wife of a mechanic complaining that everyone else’s car runs great but her car? Why? We should use our knowledge, skills and abilities in the pursuit of excellence. I have heard professional teachers state they did not want to teach Bible class because they do it all day. Well, let me encourage teachers to pursue excellence for Christ! The same can be said of an accountant, manager, planner, etc. All these skills are needed for the Lord’s work.
Third, look for areas to serve in the worship services. Do not be one of those who have to be “drafted” into such service. Pursue excellence! If you do not know how to do a certain area of service, take the initiative and learn. Do not make the excuse that you cannot learn. I shake my head when I hear people say they cannot learn.
Fourth, one should not have to be begged to come to services. Do not be the type of person who needs constant prodding. Pursue excellence! Be there! Be early! Be encouraging!
Fifth, look for areas to serve outside the walls of the building that bring people to the building to worship. Christianity is a life lived. Pursue excellence!
Do not compare yourself to others in a limiting fashion, but do look to those who are pursuing excellence and follow their lead to do the same. The pursuit of excellence is not to be better than anyone else. No, the pursuit of excellence is to be a better Christian than you were the day before. The pursuit of excellence should be on every Christian’s mind. Does your mind think about how you can improve your Christian walk and talk to carry you through this life and into eternal life with the Lord? “Sliding by,” “getting by” or “letting someone else” are not pursuing excellence. Do not look for the bare minimum, but demand more of yourself. Does not Christ deserve excellence?