TEXT: JOSHUA 24:1, 14-16
LIFE IS FILLED WITH CHOICES –
- We must choose when to go to bed and when to get up.
- We must choose what to eat and what not to eat.
- We must choose what to wear and what not to wear.
- We choose what to do with our time.
- We choose when we’ll go to work and where we’ll go out to eat.
Now I must admit since I’ve gotten older and retired 15 years ago, the choices have changed…a lot! But there are still choices to make.
Some choices are easy to make while other choices are more difficult to make.
WE ARE WHO WE ARE TODAY BECAUSE OF THE CHOICES WE MADE YESTERDAY.
The CHOICES we make today have an impact on the decisions we’ll be making tomorrow.
They establish a PATTERN and a FOUNDATION for our life. That said, most of us haven’t always made the right choices…Okay, ALL of us haven’t. You and I may never be able to undo those choices…BUT….I have some good news for you. HE, who holds our tomorrow, is more than able to turn it around for us.
So after reading through the Book of Joshua and writing several Blog-studies, I want to focus on the only RIGHT CHOICE we each can make.
In the last chapter of JOSHUA, it begins presenting what is often called Joshua’s FAREWELL ADDRESS.
The first mentioning of Joshua given is the picture of an HONORABLE MAN–one that you would want to follow. In his early years, he was sent as a representative of Ephraim to spy out the land of Canaan (Numbers 13:1-33). He and Caleb seem to be a different standard than the other spies–the exciting voice speaking out with enthusiastic optimism about their ability to take the LAND–
- Let’s do it!
- We can take it!
- We can take them!
I wondered as I read in Joshua what it was that caused this nation to follow a leader such as he. Was it FAITH? Was it youthful exuberance”
Who can tell, but a leader is what Israel needed as they awaited moving forward in the new campaign–CROSSING THE RIVER!
A Brief Review of Joshua’s Life –
JOSHUA is now quite old in the last chapter, and he has seen a lot over a period of 110 years.
His early formative years he spent in service to Moses. In his later years, he spent leading God’s people into battle to the promised land. He’d seen the PLAGUES OF EGYPT, the parting of the Red Sea. He has endured the trip through the desert to the edge of the promised land, then the trip back into the wilderness for 40 years of wandering in the wasteland.
He saw God part the Jordan river. He saw God crumble the walls of Jericho, sending the enemies into a panic. He also saw the PUNISHMENT OF ACHAN after his sin, He then saw the RESTORATION OF THE BLESSING–not ‘a blessing’ but “the blessing.” The presence of God.
He’s led a full life and he has known the POWER and the PRESENCE OF THE LIVING GOD in his life and in his leadership.
At the ripe old age of 110, Joshua recognizes his death is near.
JOSHUA’S Last Days Are Where We Find Ourselves –
I wonder what the Israelites might be thinking at this point of history. They understood after all those years, their campaign was now coming to a close and a LEADER is leaving his parting words on his people.
Joshua’s Life Is Coming to an End.
There’s a transition to take place. From a people consumed with getting the other people out of the land to being a people in the land. So Joshua asks this nation, who will you SERVE now that you are NOT FOCUSED on the conquests? Will you return to the gods you used to worship, or will you SERVE YHWH? Like me and my family.
There’s a back and forth going on between Joshua and the gathered ELDERS-HEADS-JUDGES-OFFICERS. They are gathered at the same place where after Ai was finally captured, in Shechem–Joshua calls his people together for another COVENANT invitation.
JOSHUA 24:1 (AMP)
 THEN JOSHUA gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem and summoned the elders of Israel and their heads, their judges, and their officers; they presented themselves before God.
In this FIRST VERSE, as I read in preparation for this BLOG study, really caught my attention. Joshua called for the LEADERS of God’s people and they were where they were supposed to be.
We should know where the LEADERS of the Church are located.
They were on their post and Joshua knew, if no one else was around, the LEADERS were at their post and were committed. You cannot LEAD if you can’t be found.
LEADERS then should be out front in the congregation.
Joshua before addressing the nation of Israel called upon and challenged the Leaders FIRST. He challenged them to be more than INVOLVED…to be COMMITTED!
THE POLITICAL AND MILITARY CENTER OF GOD’S PEOPLE –
Joshua challenges their ABILITY TO BE FAITHFUL. Now that’s an interesting thought! If we can’t be FAITHFUL to God, we can’t be FAITHFUL to the Church. If we’re not FAITHFUL to God, we won’t be faithful to any ministry we’re in. To put it simply, if not FAITHFUL to God, you don’t have the ABILITY to be FAITHFUL!
- Staying at home on Sunday mornings don’t bother you.
- Staying home on Thursday nights from prayer and private worship don’t bother you.
- Staying at home at 3:30 PM on Fridays at the Alzheimer/Dementia section in town doesn’t bother you.
Then You are Involved and not Committed.
YOU ARE FAITHFUL TO THOSE THINGS THAT YOU ARE COMMITTED TO –
This, of course, applies to all areas of our lives. As an example, if we’re not committed to weight loss, then we will not be faithful in the process. Ever start college or trade school? If we’re not committed to the process then we will not be faithful in going to class and study (been there!). And when it comes to marriage…ok, I’ll leave that alone.
The Mood Has Changed from the Beginning of this OT book…
When God’s people were wandering in the wilderness, they found themselves fighting and defending their little nation. Joshua now reviews the conquest campaign, as well as a history lesson with God, being good to God’s COVENANTAL AGREEMENT.
He then concludes his message with a personal statement regarding his family’s FIDELITY in VERSE 15:
NOTICE, Joshua doesn’t say, “as for me and my people,” rather, he states, as for me and MY FAMILY, or “household”. WE WILL SERVE THE LORD.
It appears Israel was fit for a battle campaign but now the question arises, are they fit for settling in the land and trusting God in a new way campaign?
Ultimately, isn’t that the most any of us can say?
- In spite of what I decide to do…
- In spite of my commitment level,
- In spite of what I want to do with my time,
- In spite of how I feel about supporting the Church…
Me and My Family Will Serve the Lord!
With POSSESSION of the Promised Land comes great Responsibility –
It now becomes your DUTY to take what you have already secured and passed it along to the next generation. But as far as Joshua goes, his BATTLE DAYS are coming to a close. Don’t get me wrong. I know there are plenty more battles to be fought but Joshua’s time has come to a close. After all the BATTLES, the slaughter, and the delivery of land, the ONLY THING Joshua can have control is he and his family.
Opportunity Is Knocking At The Front Door –
I’m sure the compiler of the conquest narrative more than likely lives in the aftermath of these days, in the time of Judges– when the people of God were all too quick to forget this covenant. So they knew Joshua’s hesitation reaffirmed the COVENANT for a good reason.
But the people say: “No! We will serve the Lord.”
They could have said: “Well Pastor, this weekend is my time to sleep in.”
Here was the opportunity to walk away, to be more honest, to pledge just partial commitment, to say, “Pastor you know I work all week!”
BUT THEY DIDN’T!
Joshua needs them to know and understand the gravity of their being A COVENANT PEOPLE. To ensure they really wanted to be God’s people IN THE LAND, not just A PEOPLE IN THE LAND.
A STANDARD OF SERVICE DEMANDED (24:14 NIV) –
“Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness.”
Joshua doesn’t leave any room for CASUAL FAITH, for serving God when it’s convenient or when things are going well, or when life is easy. He doesn’t leave room for doing FAITH on our terms. He calls us to SERVE ‘with ALL faithfulness.’
What if in our serving there’s no reward, no appreciation?
Joshua says, “serve Him in sincerity and in truth” (AMP).
There is A RESPONSIBILITY OF CHOICE that goes along with Commitment –
With the right to choose comes the responsibility to choose. You can’t defer this CHOICE to anyone else. It’s easy to say if I had a better Husband or Wife; if we had a better Preacher; to say if only others in the church were committed. We cannot defer or place our CHOICES on others.
“Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve” (24:15)
I just want to add here…THE RECORD OF CHOICE.
It has always been LIFE or DEATH, BLESSING or CURSES.
- Adam and Eve CHOSE Death.
- Ananias and Sapphira CHOSE Death.
- The Rich Young Ruler CHOSE Death.
- King Agrippa CHOSE Death.
- Pontius Pilate CHOSE Death.
- Judas CHOSE Death.
- Lazarus CHOSE Life.
- Abraham CHOSE Life.
- Paul CHOSE Life.
- Peter CHOSE Life.
There is a Record of the Repercussions of the Choices you make.
Which Do We Choose?
WHO ARE YOU GOING TO SERVE?
It was fairly easy for the Israelites to worship other gods–these gods didn’t demand much.
- It was EASY to carry a wooden carving.
- It was EASY to throw a bit of grain at an altar.
- It was EASY to bow to the sun.
BUT GOD DEMANDS “ALL”!
It’s relatively EASY for us to carry our own dreams and desires and live for them. It’s also EASY to throw a bit of money at a charitable cause. It’s relatively EASY for us to raise our hands and shout praise to a local sports hero.
BUT GOD DEMANDS ALL!
Maybe Joshua is getting less patient with age. I recognize I’m less patient since growing older.
So Joshua lays it out bluntly–either SERVE the Lord WITH ALL FAITHFULNESS or, if you don’t like that, CHOOSE some other god to serve. It will probably be a lot easier serving another god for they don’t demand much.
AND BY THE WAY, NEITHER DO THEY OFFER MUCH IN RETURN.
Because of GOD’S GRACE, we are invited into relationship with God. Because of GOD’S GRACE, Jesus came and died for us and bridged the chasm that separated us from God.
Now we are invited to be in a relationship with God, invited into a reunion with the Holy and jealous God Joshua describes.
God gives us the GRACE to SERVE Him for we can’t serve Him on our own efforts.
But Here is the HEART of the Gospel: We can serve a holy and jealous God because He has invited us to by His Grace.
NOW IT’S TIME TO MAKE A CHOICE.
- To put that god of Alcohol away.
- To throw away the gods of drugs, opioids, pornography…
To come to the altar, on your knees if you need to.
Today is the day to CHOOSE LIFE and follow God.
“Therefore we also will serve the Lord, for He is our God.”
LISTEN TO THE WORDS TO THIS MUSIC/VIDEO:
PHOTOS: Google Image Search – Settings advanced.
Music Video: As for Me and My House – John Waller/Youtube.com
Bible Translations: New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP).