Summary: Objective: The two sides of the story of our life rise up to remind us that life is always best when lived with God rather than without God.

“A Two-Sided Story”

Subject: Relationship with God

Theme: The Two sides to our relationship with God

Text: Joshua 23:14-16

Time: Sunday Evening March 4, 2001

Question: What are the results of the choices we make?


In the story “A River Runs Through It” - two sons of a Presbyterian Minister - one who is messed up - the other who builds a successful career. The only thing that made the messed up son and his Father click was their love for fly-fishing! - the messed up son was never able to reconcile his father’s God with his own life - it always eluded him. He was a tortured soul - whose life ended prematurely - before his time - before what could have been! In this story - there are two-sides to life that are continually portrayed but never truly reconciled!

Objective: The two sides of the story of our life rise up to remind us that life is always best when lived with God rather than without God.

In Joshua chapter 23 - Joshua’s life is about to come to an end - and he takes the people of Israel to Shechem - a city right in-between to Mountains - Mt. Gerizim and Mt. Ebal - Mt Gerizim was designated by God as the mountain of blessing and Mt. Ebal was designated as the mountain of cursing. Moses had also assembled the people in this place - with those on Mt. Gerizim reciting what a “blessed” life that is lived with God is like - and those on Mt. Ebal who recited what a “cursed” life that is lived without God is like!

Illustration: Have the people divide in the chapel - half on one side and half on the other. Have the Mt. Gerizim side recite Deut.28:1-6 and have the Mt. Ebal side recite Deut. 28:15-19 (transparencies for groups to read).

Once they have finished read what Joshua says to them in the same place some 40 - 50 years later -

“Now I am about to go the way of all the earth. You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the LORD your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed. But just as every good promise of the LORD your God has come true, so the LORD will bring on you all the evil he has threatened, until he has destroyed you from this good land he has given you. If you violate the covenant of the LORD your God, which he commanded you, and go and serve other gods and bow down to them, the LORD’s anger will burn against you, and you will quickly perish from the good land he has given you.” Joshua 23:14-16

Joshua gives Israel a reminder that still resounds to us as we read it - that life is lived between these two mountains - and the choices that we make - we make in light of these two alternatives that are always present with us as we go about the journey of our life here on earth!

Transition: I want to leave you with some things to consider as we look at our lives in this “two-sided” way!

1. The Curse of Life without God

a. If we were all honest here tonight................

We could truly express - each one of us express - the wretchedness of life lived without God. We have felt the effects - we have lived with consequences of it - we are dealing with them even now as I speak.

We have in some way felt the alienation and isolation of a life lived apart from God.

The story of the Prodigal Son tells it all - “so desperate was the young man for food that even what the pigs were eating looked good to him.” This is the depths of despair - a truly cursed existence - a confusion and deeply disturbing state to be in.

b. I don’t see God to be brutal in this context

God doesn’t wish this on us - He doesn’t go looking for us to live a cursed life - but he does warn us about where we can end up if we live without Him. It can be a sad state of affairs.

God desperately tries to warn Israel - He has Moses teach them a song of what will happen to them if they stray from their relationship with Him - but they keep headed down that same road - much like the messed up son in “A River Runs Through It”

c. Paul speaks of this “cursed” life as well

He calls it - “living in the flesh” - in other words - living like God doesn’t exist - Jesus never came!

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