"THE CHOICE IS YOURS"
TEXT: JOSHUA 24:1-27
Making choices is a part of life, we make choices everyday. Some of the choices that we make are really not that big of a deal, things like: what color socks should I wear today, what should we do for dinner or do I want to buy Crest or Colgate.
Other choices that we make are of a more important nature; where do I want to go to college, who should I marry or is this really the home that we want to buy.
And as parents, we have the responsibility of raising our children in such a way that some day when they are on their own they will be able to make the right choices. So throughout life we give them opportunities to develop decision making skills. We let them pick out their favorite candy bar (which I am sure that all of us can remember was and still is, a very difficult task), we let them choose what they are going to wear to school (within reason) and we allow them other freedom and other choices as they get older.
One of the first choices I really remember having as kid was given to me by my grandfather. I was about 6 years old and I was given the choice between having an ice cream at the corner store (without my parents knowledge right before dinner) or not having an ice cream cone. Sounds like a pretty easy choice doesn’t it? But their was one more variable to this equation, there was something that went along with the ice cream cone that made the decision not so easy. And that something was, my grandfathers spit on his handkerchief, wiping the chocolate off my mouth. Well, all I can say is, that I really like ice cream.
We spend many years with our children teaching them about life, about God, about what is right and what is wrong, and someday they will be on their own and will have to make their own choices. And we just hope and pray they make the right decisions.
Joshua I am sure in many ways felt like he was the father of these people. The bond he felt may have been stronger than even the bond Moses had with these people.
Joshua had been with these people longer, his entire life, where Moses spent the first third of his life living in Egypt, but in pharaohs household, the next forty years he spent in the wilderness and it was only the final 40 years that he lived with the Israelites. Joshua on the other hand lived with them in Egypt for about forty three years, he worked beside them building cities and making bricks. He shared with them the sorrows of slavery and the dreams of deliverance. And going through tough times like that build very strong bonds.
And for the last 67 years of his life he was a leader of these people. While Moses was alive Joshua was Moses’ right hand man. It was Joshua who led Israel in the defeat of the Amalekites, less than 3 months out of Egypt (Ex 17). And Joshua was also on Mt. Sinai with Moses, when the law of God was given.
And when Moses died, Joshua was the one God choose to be the chief leader. And Joshua had been that leader for over 20 years. And now the time had come when Joshua would send these people, his people, the people he had spent his entire life with, the people he had: worked with, dreamed with, cried with, laughed with, fought with and witnessed the Mighty Power of God with. It was time for the Israelites to be kicked out of the nest (so to speak) it was time for them to fly on their own, make their own choices, and decide their own destiny.
And in chapters 23 and 24 Joshua shares with his people some final words of exhortation. Joshua knows that they will have to make a choice now, and that they will make many more in the future.
Kind of, in a small way like the final words a parent shares, before their child leaves to go off to college. Reminding them of the things they should already know and encouraging them to do what’s right.
Once Joshua has had his say, verse 28 of chapter 24 says, "THEN JOSHUA SENT THE PEOPLE AWAY EACH TO HIS OWN INHERITANCE", the people would now be on their own and would have to make their own decisions, their own choices.
Let’s read chapter 23 to set the stage for our text, chapter 24:1-27.
As we study our text today, we will see that the words of Joshua to the Israelites apply to us as well, and that we too have a choice to make.
I. LOOK AT ALL THAT GOD HAS DONE FOR YOU!! (1-13)
In these verse Joshua recounts the great victories that the nation of Israel has experienced and emphasizes the truth that it was God who was actively bringing about the victory.
Sixteen times in those 13 verses, Joshua uses the pronoun, "I" For God, followed by an action word. I TOOK I GAVE I GAVE I ASSIGNED I SENT I AFFLICTED I BROUGHT I BROUGHT I DID I BROUGHT I GAVE I DESTROYED I DELIVERED I GAVE THEM INTO I SENT I GAVE YOU A LAND!!
It would help the Israelites make the right choice if they remembered ALL the things that God had done for them.
II. IN LIGHT OF WHAT GOD HAS DONE, HERE IS WHAT YOU SHOULD DO
Joshua tells them that they should do 3 things in response to God:
A. FEAR GOD
Now there are 2 ways that people fear God. Both the Godly and the Ungodly fear God.
> The fear of the ungodly causes them to run from God.
> The fear of the Godly causes them, to run to God, in humility and reverence. Because the Godly recognize who God is and realize their need for Him.
B. Joshua also says that they are to SERVE GOD
And how are they to serve God, the NASB translates it a little better then the NIV here and reads, "THEY WERE TO, SERVE HIM IN SINCERITY AND TRUTH".
> They were to serve God with sincerity. The word sincerity means: genuine in feeling, the absence of hypocrisy or any falsifying embellishment or exaggeration, it means to serve God with our whole heart to really mean what we are doing.
The Israelites were not to merely go through the physical actions of service, but their heart was to be in the MOTIVATING FACTOR IN service.
> As important as sincerity is, Joshua says that it can not stand alone, but that it must be coupled with truth.
In Joshua chapter 1 [7,8] listen to what God tells Joshua.
And Joshua found these words of God to be sound and true, And now as Joshua shares his final words he says the following in 23:6, "BE VERY STRONG, BE CAREFUL TO OBEY ALL THAT IS WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF THE LAW OF MOSES, WITHOUT TURNING ASIDE TO THE RIGHT OR TO THE LEFT."
Joshua knew there would be a tendency to not obey ALL of the Word of God, so he exhorts them to stay true to the word and to not stray from the truth.
IN RESPONSE TO GOD, THE ISRAELITES SHOULD FEAR AND SERVE GOD. AND THEY SHOULD....
C. THROW AWAY THE GODS OF THEIR FATHERS
They were to get rid of anything that they would put before God.
LOOK AT ALL THAT GOD HAS DONE FOR YOU
IN LIGHT OF WHAT GOD HAS DONE, YOU SHOULD FEAR AND SERVE HIM, IN SINCERITY AND TRUTH.
III. I HAVE MADE MY DECISION
What a powerful verse this is (15)
What Joshua is saying here is, "Brother Israelites don’t be fooled into thinking that you do not have to make a decision, because the truth is you are going to serve some one, and you must choose to either serve THE LORD GOD ALMIGHTY OR SOME OTHER FALSE gods. THE CHOICE IS YOURS TO MAKE, I CAN’T MAKE IT FOR YOU.
SO CHOOSE FOR YOURSELVES THIS DAY!!!
I HAVE MADE MY DECISION AND AS FOR ME AND MY HOUSE, WE WILL SERVE THE LORD."
I WILL FEAR THE LORD
I WILL SERVE THE LORD IN SINCERITY AND TRUTH
AND I WILL SEE TO IT THAT THOSE WITHIN MY HOUSE DO SO AS WELL.
Wow, what a powerful statement Joshua has just made, what an emotional moment this must have been. And the people were pumped, they were caught up in THIS EMOTION and they responded.
IV. YES JOSHUA! WE TOO WILL SERVE THE LORD
And Joshua heard their response and Joshua replied:
V. NOW UNDERSTAND! IT’S EASIER SAID THEN DONE
Joshua knows that in a highly emotional moment like this, it is easy to Let ONESELF GET caught up in the emotions of the moment. Joshua understands that words come fairly cheap, and that deeds are far more costly.
And Joshua says the following in verses [16-18]
We need to remember, that Joshua was there when Moses read the Law to the people, after bringing the law of God to the people for the very first time, we read this in Exodus chapter 24.
And Joshua heard how the people responded to the Words of God when read by Moses, "THE PEOPLE RESPONDED WITH ONE VOICE, EVERYTHING THE LORD HAS SAID WE WILL DO."
And I am sure that the scene Joshua saw as he came down with Moses from the mountain of God 40 days later, was still etched in his mind. When Joshua approached the camp with Moses and heard all the noise and shouting, he thought the camp was under attack.
But as he came into the camp the same people who 40 days ago said we will do everything the lord has said, were have a wild party dancing and committing indecent acts before an idol that they had made.
Joshua knew that commitments easily made, are easily broken. And because God is Holy and because God is jealous, God will not put up with half-hearted, unlived commitment.
Joshua wants the people to understand the seriousness of the commitment they are making.
AND THE PEOPLE RESPONDED
VI. NO!! BUT WE WILL
The people told Joshua we understand and we really do ,mean it, we too will serve the Lord.
VII. AND JOSHUA RESPONDED TO THEM, IF YOU REALLY MEANT THEN YOU WILL.........
Apparently the people, even now had some idols with them and Joshua said, If you are going to serve God you need to get rid of them, and get rid of them NOW!!
And then the people made a covenant with the Lord.
Well, how do you think this people did, did they keep their word, did they really do it?
If we turn over to Judges chapter one and read [7,10,11] we’ll find out. You see we have the rest of the story...
The generation that stood before Joshua appears to have been faithful themselves, but it also is apparent that they failed to pass it on to the next Generation.
What about us?
>> LOOK AT ALL THAT GOD HAS DONE, AND IS DOING, FOR US?
GOD SENT HIS SON, THEY CALLED HIM JESUS; HE CAME TO LOVE, HEAL AND FORGIVE; HE LIVED AND DIED TO BUT MY PARDON, AN EMPTY GRAVE IS THERE TO PROVE MY SAVIOR LIVES. BECAUSE HE LIVES I CAN FACE TOMORROW; BECAUSE HE LIVES ALL FEAR IS GONE; BECAUSE I KNOW HE HOLDS THE FUTURE AND LIFE IS WORTH THE LIVING JUST BECAUSE HE LIVES.
He paid our debt -- He bore our sin -- He fought our battle -- He won our war -- He shattered the chains of sin that bound us -- He gave us the opportunity for eternal life -- He loved us when we were unlovely -- he cares for us -- he comforts us -- he IS PRESENT WITH US -- and he is preparing a home for us
AND ONE DAY WE’LL CROSS THE RIVER; WE’LL FIGHT LIFE’S FINAL WAR WITH PAIN; AND THEN AS DEATH GIVES WAY TO VICTORY, WE’LL SEE THE LIGHTS OF GLORY AND WE’LL KNOW HE LIVES.
>> In light of all that God has done, AND IS DOING for us, we should choose this very day to .....
TO FEAR GOD to run to Him in humility and reverence realizing that He and only He is the source of life.
WE SHOULD CHOOSE TO SERVE GOD IN SINCERITY AND TRUTH
When we serve in the church, are we sincere? Are we doing it for God, motivated by our love for Him? Or, when we teach that class, clean the building, keep the nursery are we insincere, because we are doing it for some other reason? For personal glory or as A grudging duty...etc
And is our service and life true to His Word. Jesus SAID that those who worship God, must worship Him in spirit and in truth. Truth is essential.
AND WE MUST THROW AWAY AND REMOVE FROM OUR LIVES ANYTHING THAT COMES BETWEEN US AND GOD
Each of us has to decide, each one here has to decide whether
HE OR SHE WILL CHOOSE TO REALLY FEAR AND SERVE GOD OR NOT!!
I BELIEVE IN GOD, I LOVE GOD, AND I HAVE MADE MY DECISION, I WILL SERVE AND FEAR THE ONE TRUE GOD, I WILL DO MY BEST TO BE THE MAN OF GOD THAT HE WANTS ME TO BE.
I HAVE MADE MY CHOICE, I HAVE DECIDE TO FOLLOW GOD, I HAVE DECIDED TO FOLLOW JESUS AND AS THE SONG SAYS THOUGH NONE GO WITH ME STILL I WILL FOLLOW...I WANT TO GO WITH HIM ALL THE WAY.
What about you??
>> Now we ALL must understand that it’s a lot easier said then done. It is so easy to simply say the words "I WANT TO SERVE GOD, I WANT TO FOLLOW HIM."
BUT OUR GOD IS A JEALOUS GOD, HE IS JEALOUS FOR US FOR OUR OWN GOOD HE KNOWS WHAT’S BEST FOR US. AND OUR GOD IS A HOLY GOD AND HE WILL NOT TOLERATE HALF-HEARTED, UNLIVED, MEDIOCRE COMMITMENT.
It is so easy to say, yes I’ll serve you God, while sitting in a church service, to get caught up in the emotion of it all. But what about later, will we serve God later, will we still fear and serve God in sincerity and truth; When we get home, how do we treat our spouse our children; Do we still choose God when we go to the job on Monday and someone wants to tell us a dirty joke or our boss wants us to lie; How about when we go to school and our friends think that Jesus and church are losers. Or how about when you are tempted to take that drink, watch that movie, spread that gossip, or commit that sexual sin, will we still choose to serve God then.
And if we STILL really do want to serve God we need to understand, that there are even now some idols, some things that we are putting before God, things that get our worship before God does.
We can’t serve God and anything else, we can not have 2 masters. There is but one Lord and King.
After Israel said to Joshua, "we really want to do it JOSHUA, WE REALLY WANT TO SERVE GOD "
Joshua said, "NOW THEN, THROW AWAY THE FOREIGN GOD’S THAT ARE AMONG YOU. AND YIELD YOUR HEARTS TO THE LORD TO THE GOD OF ISRAEL."
Did you notice the order there, listen here this, "as long as there idols in our life , WE HAVE NOT YIELDED OUR HEARTS TO GOD." WE CAN’T YIELD OUR HEARTS TO GOD WHEN OUR HEARTS ARE GIVEN TO SOMETHING OR SOMEONE ELSE.
O we may think we have, but we have not!!
AND If you really don’t want to serve God, if serving him seems undesirable to you, you have the right tom make that choice, God has given you that choice.
But if we really want to Serve God, let’s understand that it is not a game, Our God is a jealous, Holy and Righteous God and He will not accept half-hearted, unlived, lukewarm, mediocre, dead commitment.
If say we want to serve God, and we really mean it then we will throw away the gods that are among us (THROW THEM AWAY RIGHT NOW! DON’T LET THEM RULE YOUR LIFE), we will throw away pride, greed, lust, envy, jealousy, self glory, power.... we will throw away anything that we put before God.
And then and only then will we be able to yield our hearts to the LORD, THE GOD OF ISRAEL, OUR SAVIOR AND KING..
READ VERSES 14 AND 15
HOW DO YOU THINK WE WILL DO? THERE IS NO BOOK FOR US TO TURN TO FIND THE REST OF THE STORY. BUT GOD KNOWS, AND GOD DOES HAVE A BOOK.
AND THE QUESTION IS, WILL OUR NAMES, WILL OUR FAMILIES NAME BE WRITTEN IN THAT BOOK, THE BOOK OF LIFE.
THE CHOICE IS YOURS AND YOURS AND MINE.
IT MAY BE TRUE THAT THERE ARE 2 SIDES TO EVERY QUESTION, BUT IT IS ALSO TRUE THAT THERE ARE 2 SIDES TO A PIECE OF FLYPAPER. AND IT MAKES A BIG DIFFERENCE TO THE FLY WHICH SIDE HE CHOOSES.
LIFE IS FULL OF CHOICES AND THERE IS NO GREATER CHOICE MAN WILL EVER MAKE THAN WHAT HE IS GOING TO DO WITH GOD AND JESUS.
IT DOES A BIG DIFFERENCE WHICH SIDE WE CHOOSE.