ODJ: eyes ahead

February 27, 2015 

READ: Joshua 23:1-16 

Do not deviate from [the Book of Instruction], turning either to the right or to the left (v.6).

Glen, an old family friend, took a fall inside his home and fractured his neck. Fortunately, he didn’t need surgery. His doctor fitted him with a neck brace and instructed him not to bend, lift or turn until his neck had healed. This meant that he had to move his entire body to see anything outside his direct line of sight. He could focus only on what was directly in front of him.

God wanted the Israelites to focus on Him exclusively—keeping Him at the centre of their lives. According to Joshua, the people were not to turn “to the right or to the left” (Joshua 23:6). This wasn’t easy for the nation of nomads when they entered the Promised Land. Distractions were everywhere—pagan gods, exotic foreigners and an array of unusual customs.

Still, God promised to bless the Israelites if they would concentrate on Him. They would have the respect of other nations, gain victories and enjoy climate changes tailored to meet their needs! Their children, crops and livestock would flourish (Deuteronomy 28:1-14). Joshua warned them, however, “If you turn away from [God] and cling to the customs of the survivors of these nations . . . and if you intermarry . . . [then] they will be a snare and a trap to you, a whip for your backs” (Joshua 23:12-13).

As believers in Jesus, we live in a world teeming with temptations that can dilute our devotion to God. Discipline in our spiritual lives can help us focus on Him. Contemplating Scripture, conversing with God, worshipping Him and fasting are some prime practices to keep us from turning to the left or to the right (v.6). Staying focused on Him means loving Him with all of our heart, soul, strength and mind (Luke 10:27). —Jennifer Benson Schuldt

365-day plan› Joshua 1:1-18

Read Daniel 6:10,19-23 to see how one person’s unwavering devotion can affect others. 
Why does God prize our wholehearted devotion to Him? What kind of spiritual discipline most effectively helps you focus on God? 
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