Text: Defining Moments
We all know today that life is more than a moment. Life is made up of many experiences. Your life is a myriad of ups and downs, victories and defeats, good times and bad. But there are those snapshots that forever capture and imprint upon our hearts particular occurrences. They are called defining moments. They are moments in time that are branded into the fabric of our history.
September 11, 2001 will forever be indelibly etched into the filing system of our brains. The terrorist attack that killed nearly 7000 men, women, and children has been called the first act of war against the United States in the 21st Century. It was a defining moment for our great nation. Its aftermath is being called the defining moment of George Bush’s Presidency. It is one of those experiences that will affect us for years and years to come. You will remember where you were and what you were doing when you first heard the news of planes flying into the World Trade Center. You’ll remember the pall of somberness that blanketed your spirits as word spread of the Pentagon being targeted and another plane downed by the heroic actions of courageous Americans that refused to allow their captors to inflict greater damage to their fellow citizens. Why will we remember? We will remember because it was a defining moment in our lives.
There are many defining moments in the archives of our history. Time will not allow me to mention them all. But I went back and looked at some of the defining moments of the 20th Century. While it is not an exhaustive list, I chose an occurrence in each decade that impacted our Nation and sometimes the entire World. Some happened so long ago that some of us only know it because of History class, but a few of you here today remember it perhaps as if it happened yesterday.
April 14, 1912. That was the fateful night that the Titanic sank after hitting an iceberg.
October 24, 1929. Black Thursday-The day the Stock Market crashed.
May 6, 1937. The Hindenburg Disaster
December 7, 1941. Japanese attack Pearl Harbor.
August 6 and 9, 1945. Atomic Bomb dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
February 12, 1958. I was born. It was a defining moment in the life of my Mom and Dad.
November 22, 1963. President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.
April 4, 1968. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis.
August 5, 1964. U.S. became involved in the Vietnam War.
August 17, 1977. Elvis died.
January 28, 1986. Space Shuttle Challenger explodes not long after takeoff.
January 16, 1991. U.S. attacks Iraq.
April 19, 1995. Murrah Federal Building is bombed in Oklahoma City.
April 20, 1999. Columbine High School shootings.
These are all defining moments that have altered and forever sealed into our memory the facts of how things can change in a moments time. They are earmarks of our history but by no means are they the end. Many defining moments await us in the future.
In my Bible text this morning, the Scriptures record a defining moment in the life of Joshua and in the Nation of Israel. It comes at the end of Joshua’s journey of life. He had several experiences that had defined his life. He had stood beside Caleb as the only men to bring back a good report after spying out the land of Canaan. He was chosen as the successor of Moses to lead the Children of Israel into the Land of Promise. It was with Joshua at the helm that the fortified walls of Jericho fell. Many things happened but perhaps his greatest defining moment came just before his death as he addressed the Children of Israel.
He delivered a speech that secured his legacy in the Holy Writ. He challenged Israel to serve the true God. To throw down the idols that their forefathers had served in Egypt. He presented them an ultimatum to choose that day whom they would serve. And then he defined his own life with the statement, “As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
We all have moments that have defined who and what we are. A defining moment in my life was when I became a husband. A defining moment in my life was when I became a father. A defining moment in my life was when I accepted Jesus into my life and made Him my Savior and Lord. A defining moment in my life was when God called me into ministry. A defining moment in my life was when I became pastor of this church. Many experiences have defined my life, but no doubt the most important one was when I gave my life to Jesus. Nothing I have done compares with the importance and gravity of that decision.
Without that decision everything else pales in importance. What is so great about trying to be a good husband if in the end I die lost? What good is it to be a wise parent if in the end I am eternally separated from God? What does it profit me to gain in the ways of the world if in the process I lose my soul?
You may have many things today that you could point to and say, “this defined who I have become.” But friend, without Jesus, you have not clearly and completely been defined. Your life is listless and without direction as long as a personal relationship with Jesus is missing.
You want a date that will be remembered for the rest of your life? Then let Jesus impact you today with His grace and accept the Salvation that is available for all those who ask.