CHOOSE YOU THIS DAY WHOM YOU WILL SERVE
What we want to learn and practice this week is that we always have a choice in life. We use our judgment ability to make wise, helpful, just decisions for our individual relationships and our society.
JESUS REDEFINES HIMSELF AND HIS MISSION
At a certain point in his ministry, Jesus redefines Himself and his mission. The Jesus of Jerusalem is different than the Jesus of the Galilean ministry. He taught and healed in Galilee, but he knew he was a marked man by the religious and legal establishments of his time. He began to speak of his death and resurrection. A cosmic showdown and climax were shaping up. The life statement that had to be made could not be in words or healing deeds alone. A drama was necessary in which the Father would show, through him, the power of love that can overcome and heal all humanity and the world.
This was not a "vicarious atonement," a sacrificial "Lamb of God" led to the slaughter to die on our behalf for the forgiveness of sins. It was an act of love, a "crossing," so he could build a bridge that all could cross over into a greater realization of the kingdom of God in our midst. He realized he was not up against just individuals with their needs, but he (and we) face principalities and worldly power systems, violence, wars, empire building. He couldn't stay in Galilee to meet these. He had to make the choice to go to Jerusalem, and he followed that sense of mission.
The religious leaders were fearful of the large following and leadership of Jesus. They believed if Jesus was not eliminated, he would win the people to him and the accommodations the Jewish authorities had with the Roman army of occupation would be violated. The Roman army would come down on the Jewish nation and destroy them. Jesus had to go.
It says in John 11:45-57:
Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him. But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what he had done.
So the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the council, and said, "What are we to do? This man is performing many signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and destroy both our holy place and our nation."
But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, "You know nothing at all! You do not understand that it is better for you to have one man die for the people than to have the whole nation destroyed." He did not say this on his own, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus was about to die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but to gather into one the dispersed children of God.
So from that day on they planned to put him to death.
Jesus therefore no longer walked about openly among the Jews, but went from there to a town called Ephraim in the region near the wilderness; and he remained there with the disciples.
Now the Passover of the Jews was near, and many went up from the country to Jerusalem before the Passover to purify themselves. They were looking for Jesus and were asking one another as they stood in the temple, "What do you think? Surely, he will not come to the festival, will he?"
Now the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that anyone who knew where Jesus was should let them know, so that they might arrest him.a
THE ONLY WAY OUT IS THROUGH
We learn in our life that the only way out of a problem is through it. Many times, we want to get around or over or avoid some big problem or challenge. We pray, as Jesus did, "Do I have to go through this? Is this necessary?" But it is these challenges that must be met by our Christ Self, using all of our Twelve Powers. We may find in the process that all of our Powers are not able to stand up to the pressure and stress, just as some of the disciples broke and ran and hid out. But the Christ Self will remain and will get us through.
Close your eyes for a moment and just try on this Prayer of Surrender:
A Prayer of Surrender
I am here to do God's will, to unfold and express the Divine Purpose. I am not what I was. I am called to a higher and expanded purpose in life. I don't know how to do all that needs to be accomplished, but I offer myself to You, God. I am open to know and express what You have for me to do and to be used in the incredible work You have for me. I show up. I take the assignment. It is not I, but You, God, who will think, speak, act and manifest Your Good through me. I choose to follow You, God, and let You lead me wherever the path goes. I can do none else. AMEN.
Jesus had his "moment of truth" in the Garden of Gethsemane. Here he went to pray, taking his trusty prayer partners, Peter, James, and John. Jesus faced the hardest choice of his life. He struggled. He "sweat blood." He asked his friends to watch and pray with him. They kept falling asleep. He asked God to remove this task from him, but, nevertheless, "not my will but yours be done," he prayed. He released himself totally to God and was at peace.
WE ARE CHOICE PERSONS
We are beings of choice. The choices we make form our lives. So, ask yourself: On what do I base my choices? How can I make the wisest and best choices? If I have made unwise and foolish choices, do I realize I can re-choose? I don't have to live forever with bad choices.
Judas represents the Life Power. Judas tried to force Jesus to use his powers to lead the people in fighting the Romans and reclaiming their land from the oppressive rule. Judas is looked on as the betrayer, but he was more a misguided political revolutionary. He didn't get it that Jesus was going to create a different kind of revolution. Jesus said in (John 18:36) "My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here."b Totally misunderstanding his consciousness and mission, Judas chose to bring Jesus into the hands of the Sanhedrin, who wanted Jesus dead. Then when he realized the terrible way he had misjudged Jesus and the whole situation, Judas asked to give his thirty pieces of silver back to the authorities, but they said, "Keep it," and Judas hung himself in despair over his mistake.
Here we see a series of life choices - a number of tragically bad choices on Judas' part. Even after Jesus was arrested but did not resist, Judas could have seen his mistake and chosen to do something different than committing suicide. What other choices could he have made? What would you have done if you were Judas? How did Jesus make use of the situation in which he now found himself?
Joshua 24:14-28 is all about making wise choices. Joshua is laying it out for his people and telling them to get with the program. And if you look up Joshua in Fillmore's Metaphysical Dictionary you will find that Joshua means Jah is savior.c (identical with the name Jesus) I AM THAT I AM: So, Joshua is the Jesus of the Old Testament.
It said: "Now therefore revere the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness; put away the gods that your ancestors served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord."d
The attitude of reverence is an important quality in developing the Christ consciousness. Without it the mind loses a certain necessary connection with Spirit and lacks the central poise of faith that gives a religious sense to the process.
So we are to revere the Lord. And the Lord is the activity of the spiritual I AM as the ruling consciousness. It is Christ, the Spiritual Man; our divine consciousness, the creative power within us.
And we are to put away the gods that our ancestors served in Egypt. Because if we think of ourselves as descended from human ancestors, we are in bondage to all the limitations of those ancestors. And Egypt stands for the darkness of ignorance, flesh consciousness. Mental bondage to sense thoughts.
The scripture continued to say: "Now if you are unwilling to serve the Lord (or your Christ consciousness), choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods of limitations or the gods of the darkness of ignorance; but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord."
The house that God builds and dwells in is man's body. So, the household it is referring to is you. As it says in 1 Corinthians 6:19 "Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, ..."e and in, 2 Corinthians 6:16 "...For we are the temple of the living God; ..."f
The scripture continues: "Then the people answered, "Far be it from us that we should forsake the Lord to serve other gods; for it is the Lord our God who brought us and our ancestors up from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, and who did those great signs in our sight. He protected us along all the way that we went, and among all the peoples through whom we passed; and the Lord drove out before us all the peoples, the Amorites who lived in the land. Therefore, we also will serve the Lord, for he is our God."
So the people are saying that they will not go against their Christ consciousness, because it is the Christ within them that has brought them out of the darkness and protected them. So, they proclaim that they will serve God.
Then the scripture said, "But Joshua said to the people, "You cannot serve the Lord, for he is a holy God. He is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions or your sins."
So Joshua is telling his people that this is a high calling and not to be taken lightly; for their God is spiritually whole and to serve him they must be whole in Spirit, mind and body. And that they must not think thoughts that violate the principle of mental harmony that is inherent in that highest part of themselves. For we create our own punishment when we sin. And what is sin? Sin is our failure to express the attributes of Spirit - life, love, intelligence, wisdom, and the other God qualities.
Then the scripture says: "If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, then he will turn and do you harm, and consume you, after having done you good."
So when we serve the foreign gods of lack, limitation, addiction, and ignorance we are not being true to who and what we truly are. So, we break ourselves into pieces trying to prove that we are separate from God. And we get eaten up with the pain of not being one with God. So, Joshua was warning the people to not hurt themselves in that way.
"And the people said to Joshua, "No, we will serve the Lord!" Then Joshua said to the people, "You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen the Lord, to serve him." And they said, "We are witnesses." He said, "Then put away the foreign gods that are among you, and incline your hearts to the Lord, the God of Israel."
"Incline your heart" is widely used for the feelings, the will and even the intellect. He is saying that they should center themselves in the God of Israel. Center themselves in their Spiritual consciousness. Center themselves in the thoughts that have been shaped in Truth and righteousness that make up the spiritual mind.
"The people said to Joshua, "The Lord our God we will serve, and him we will obey." So, Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and made statutes and ordinances for them at Shechem."
A covenant is a contract or agreement between two parties. Covenant means "to cut," and so a covenant is a "cutting," with reference to the cutting or dividing of animals into two parts, and the contracting parties passing between them, in making a covenant.
" Joshua wrote these words in the book of the law of God; and he took a large stone and set it up there under the oak in the sanctuary of the Lord. Joshua said to all the people, "See, this stone shall be a witness against us; for it has heard all the words of the Lord that he spoke to us; therefore, it shall be a witness against you, if you deal falsely with your God." So, Joshua sent the people away to their inheritances.
And their inheritances were their blessings. Our inheritance from God is divine ideas. These ideas find expression in what we call our good
Deuteronomy 30:19-20 says:
"I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and holding fast to him; for that means life to you and length of days, so that you may live in the land that the Lord swore to give to your ancestors, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob."g
And now would you join with me in a special Easter ceremony...
MINISTER: I believe in one God almighty - peace, love, joy, and life. Father and Creator of all good.
CONGREGATION: And in Christ, our Lord, through whose power I am saved from mistaken beliefs and unfulfilling experiences.
MINISTER: I believe in myself, in God in me,
CONGREGATION: And in my power through Christ to behold in myself the Son of God, for such I am in Truth.
MINISTER: I believe in all people, in God in them,
CONGREGATION: And in His power to be filled with all good, because God in their midst is All-Good.
MINISTER: I believe in forgiveness,
CONGREGATION: Which takes place when through Christ in me I remit and release mistaken beliefs from my consciousness.
MINISTER: I believe in the resurrection of the body to perfect life and health,
CONGREGATION: Which is achieved when through Christ the body is exalted above mistaken beliefs and limitations of any kind.
MINISTER: I believe in everlasting joy, peace, love, and life.
CONGREGATION: Which are realized when through the knowledge of Truth we behold heaven in our very midst. Amen.
MINISTER: O Lord God, quicken in us the vision that, looking within the fleshly walls of Thy temple, beholds Thy Spirit there! Light within us the fire of Thy consuming love that burns away the dross of error and makes of our heart a holy shrine for Thine abiding. Give us to know Thy joy, as with patience and forbearance, with infinite thoughts and words and deeds of love, we reveal Thy Son within.
CONGREGATION & MINISTER: Through the power of the living Christ, I am quickened to newness of life.
MINISTER: Perhaps too the thought of some loved one at a distance, or of one who has slipped into the realm of life beyond the physical, may enter your thought. Let us become still and for this loved one affirm the same thoughts together:
CONGREGATION & MINISTER: Through the power of the living Christ, you are quickened to newness of life.
How we find God is less important than that we find Him. We are assured that if with all our heart we truly seek Him, we shall surely find Him. Sometimes we can more fully express our feelings and our desire in a simple act of faith than we can in words. In either case a symbol is employed. In one case we symbolize thought and feeling by the language of speech, in the other by the language of action. So today in flowers we offer our devotion in an active prayer of faith.
Let the vase of green before you symbolize the infinite life of God. The life of God is without beginning or end. It is green to symbolize the expression of life in the abundance of the natural world.
The life of each of us is a part of the larger life of God. Jesus said in (John 15:5) "I am the vine; you are the branches..."h It is in us that the life of God comes into manifestation. The closer we live to Him the more beautiful and radiant our own life is, and the more glorious life becomes to us.
I invite you to come forward and place your flower in the vase. Then take a written blessing, which has been lovingly and prayerfully prepared for you. I invite you to keep it and memorize it, and I trust that by the law of attraction you have received just the blessing that will most help and inspire you in meeting the challenges and opportunities that lie before you.
As you place this flower in the vase let it be with the thought of consciously placing your life in the infinite life of God, or of recognizing that your life is already safely and lovingly held in His. Perhaps as you do so, the thought of some deeply felt desire of your heart will come to mind. If so, place this too in the encircling life of God.
So would you now come forward row by row and place a flower in the vase and we will watch the dull-green vase become a radiant figure of fragrant flowers. The drabness of Easter Eve gives way to the glory of Easter Day. The promise of the leaf is fulfilled in the blooming of the flower.
BENEDICTION: We will close with Romans 8:11 "If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you." And you will become an inhabitant, here and now of "a new heaven and a new earth."i Amen
e1 Corinthians 6:19
f2 Corinthians 6:16