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The following is a part of our weekly devotional series, which is a companion to the 2013 Foursquare Life Journal. This week’s Bible reading comes from Joshua 21-24; Judges 1-10; Psalms 39, 42, 44, 47, 49 and 52; and 1 Corinthians 10-16.

As the book of Joshua draws to a close, we read how he exhorted Israel about how to continue to live as God’s people. “Be very careful,” he cautioned them twice (Josh. 23:6, 11, NLT).

“Be very careful to follow everything Moses wrote in the Book of Instruction” (Josh. 23:6). In other words, be a person of the Word. When I hear that, I think of being on my game, listening, leaning in, being attentive, active and detailed—not legalistic, but an engaged doer of the Word and not just a “hearer,” especially as a pastor.

I never should settle for facts and information alone, but must press myself  to action and implementation—to transformation. Being careful makes me think that there is great personal care to be taken with God’s Word, lest I come up short, and disastrously so.

We just passed the sad, and yet meaningful, anniversary of the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster. I remember watching the news coverage, sadly, and seeing the debris streak across the sky like thousands of shooting stars. We all wondered what caused such a disaster. And we all learned later it was caused by a small piece of foam that came off the external fuel tank and struck the leading edged of the wing on takeoff. Foam had come off the fuel tank before without consequence, but this time it was different. The foam created a relatively small hole that compromised the spacecraft when it experienced the intense heat generated by re-entry.

Be careful: Hell seeks just a small hole, a small entry point. The small hole may seem no big deal in and of itself, but when the heat is on, when the flames of test and trial come, we can be consumed, and all we leave in our wake is debris, as with the shuttle, scattered over thousands of miles.

“Do not deviate from it, turning either to the right or to the left” (Josh. 23:6). We all are the king or queen of compromise sometimes. We have a list of our “little things,” exceptions, but while small on their own, the sum total can lead to a crash of enormous measure. A small deviation over a short distance is often of little consequence. But keep going—stay on that course—and you could miss your target by a mile.

The bottom line is this: It’s not about legalism or perfection, but rather passion and love for God. Joshua charged the people, and us, with these wonderful words: “So be very careful to love the Lord your God” (Josh. 23:11). When I am very careful to cultivate and nurture my love for God and vigilant about finding the exceptions—the small areas of deviation in my life—then the right priorities more naturally take their place in my life.

By: Mark Hladek, senior pastor of Grace Community (Merced Foursquare Church) in Merced, Calif.

Download the yearlong reading plan (PDF, 80 KB), or sign up for the full, online version of the Life Journal. To purchase a Life Journal for your own use, or to place a bulk order for church-wide use, visit Learn more about Foursquare’s 2013 Life Journal project.

is a freelance writer and editor. She lives in Orlando, Fla.