FAITH TO ENTER GODS PROMISES

The Choice is Yours

Joshua 24

Jerry A Collins

SCC

5/29/05

 

*               How serious are you in your commitment to the Lord?

*               Have you made the choice to serve the Lord faithfully?

*               Do you understand the consequences should you fail?

 

Think with me of the relationship between renewal and service. For instance, we hear of contracts being renewed. If service is going to continue to be given, then a new contract is needed. In the mail, we received a subscription renewal. We would need to renew it if we would continue to benefit. This very week we renewed prescriptions to continue to service Ruths headache issues. One of the men I meet with told me this week that because of an overseas trip he is going to be taking he has decided to renew hid living will. New circumstances lead to changes that inevitably require us to renew decisions that allow service to continue to be given to us in our life situations.

Joshua 24 is an account of a covenant renewal ceremony. They had come far from Egyptphysically & spiritually. So many victories and defeats, they now have gathered with Joshua at Shechem. On the threshold of a new beginning with so many unforeseen challenges and conflicts, these new circumstances require a renewed resolve and increased commitment to the Lord. So God is calling us today to renew our call to serve the Lord in our lives. You can look back and attest to many spiritual victories as God led you in the way. You have seen His wonders, enjoyed His favor but you dare not assume that the level of your commitment in the past that has brot you here will see you thru the challenges that lie in the future. New circumstances require a renewed resolve and increased commitment.

1. RESOLVE TO GIVE YOUR ALLEGIANCE TO THE LORD

The reason for this gathering was to reflect on their success under Gods good hand of favor.

(By reflecting on Gods favor in the past 1-13) Here is a rehearsal of all that God had done for them. There are at least four memorials mentioned: (a) the Creation of Israel 2-4. God chose to adopt Abe. It was solely a work of God. Their origins were from God alone. (b) the Exodus of the nation from Egypt 5-7. God performed real contrary-to-nature miracles in the real 3-diemnsional world. Miracles God said they had seen with their own eyes vs 7. (c) the Protection of Israel during the wandering 7b-10. The people would have been lost without the work of God to protect them in their vulnerability in the wilderness. (d) the Crossing and possession of their territory 11-13. They now occupied land and cities and produce that they had not built or farmed. Understand, like Israel needed to, that who you are and what you have is because of what God gave you. Never think you earned what you have. God gave you a personality, intelligence, education, talents, gifts, opportunities, and a life situation which you did not earn or choose. Israel owes her existence to the good hand of the Lord. So, they were to reflect upon the sovereignty of God. 17 times the Lord says I in this section and not once in the next where we change to the free will of man. (By serving the Lord 14) The idea is to live to do the will of your master. The most sacred title for us is a servant of the Lord. Here is the biblical pattern of service: God has promised to give His people everythingno good thing will He withhold from the righteousand in return He expects that likewise we will hold nothing back from Him! Jesus Christ is the pattern for such service. He demonstrated humility, submission and obedienceconcepts not popular today. There are 2 qualifications for serving the Lord (a) Serve in fear. This is what will keep you from sinning. Sin will always hinder your service for the Lord. (b) Serve in sincerity and truth. It is the combination of blameless and reliability together forming one idea complete reliability. Spiritual service cannot be erratic and undependable. It cannot be half-hearted. God wants service that He can count onHe wants faithful servants. (By allowing no rival allegiances 14) There can be no rivals for our devotion. Service to God is exclusive. It does not permit competition or divided loyalty. So we must put away other gods. Joshua says you cannot serve two masters. If you try to join the claims of the world and Christ, the world will win for it has nothing to lose and everything to gain. There can be nothing in our lives-- possessions or relationships or ambitions-- that rob us of our full devotion and service to God. They must be removed and hold nothing back that is rightfully His. We only become useful servants when we are totally committed to Jesus and His Word. (By choosing whom we will serve 15) There are plenty of choices all around just as there was for Israel. But we must make a choice. And if it is the Lord, then we must rid ourselves of every idol! Joshua was a true spiritual leader, a man of conviction and resolve. The Bible says as long as he lived the people served the Lord! (Picture: I resolved at HYC 7 weeks in a row).

2. GIVE ALLEGIANCE SINCE YOU OWE GOD EVERYTHING

(A) This is only reasonable response 16-18. Our decision to serve God should be thot through. Their immediate response was to never abandon the Lord. Their reasoning was sound too. It was the Lord who redeemed them from Egypt, brot them to the land, preserved them, protected them, provided for them, inherited them.

(B) If you decide to serve God fully then remember that you will not 19-21. Not a good way to draw a crowd. Commitment to the Lord not a trifling matter but serious business. The reason for warning is because God is holy, and you are not, jealous, not tolerant and He is just, not forgiving sin in sense of overlooking it but it must be paid for. Jesus did that and we will need to return and confess and be forgivenbut understand that will be an essential, continual process as we are conformed to image of Christ. Service to Lord begins, as Paul says, by presenting ourselves to Him! We already owe Him everything so hold back nothing 18.

3. ALLEGIANCE REQUIRES SUBMITING TO HIS WILL ALONE

When this covenant renewal is implemented, there are two requirements. (1) The people are to clean out all of the strange gods 22-23a. What are those worldly distractions and hindrances from service, those worldly things that give security and pleasure, that need to be removed so you can put more of an emphasis on whole-hearted commitment? There can be nothing standing in the way of our service to the Lord! (2) The people are to incline their hearts vs 23. We must have a predisposition to obey God. We must always be leaning that way. It comes down to this: I must determine that I will obey the Word of God even if it is unpopular or inconvenient. Paul said yield your members as servants of righteousness. Samuel said obedience is better than sacrifice. But as long as I debate and decide whether to do His will or not, I am not a servant.

(1) At outset of any new venture in your spiritual journey, examine your heart to determine how committed you are to serve the Lord there.

(2) You cannot rest on past victories or ride crest of past favor of God. New challenges demand a new commitment to serve the Lord.

(3) Discipleship is key to passing on spiritual leadership to next generation 29-33. (IPIC)