Summary: Pentecost 14: Joshua offers the Israelites a choice. But what does it mean to choose for God? We explore this in today’s message.
This morning, the alarm went off and I got up – I had a choice to get up or not. After shaving and showering, I went to my closet picked out the shirt and trousers that I’m wearing today – I had a choice. After this I went to the kitchen and picked out a mug to have a cup of coffee. Now, those of you that know me know that I am a coffee aficionado – I have many, many, many mugs, and so - I had a choice as to which of my many mugs I would drink from.
Life is full of choices, isn’t it? Some of them are mundane. Whether you choose one way or another, your life is not going to be much affected. But there are other choices that we can make that can have profound, life-changing consequences. In 1991, a young man named Jason was racing his friends in his car. They all thought they were just having a good old time. But Jason had been drinking. In a split second, the good old time changed into a tragedy. Jason caused a crash that killed his 15-year-old brother, Aaron. As a result, Jason was convicted of vehicular manslaughter. He was sent to state prison on a six -year sentence. Jason had a choice, and he made a tragically wrong one.
On the other side of the coin, there are people who make incredibly good decisions. I’ve had the privilege of speaking with many of you. I am just incredibly astounded at the wisdom with which many of you have managed your affairs. I visited a couple a few days ago, and the man was sharing with me how he had invested his earnings during the whole time he worked. He would study the financial pages and was able to invest and reinvest his money. And now, those investments are available for him and for his wife to enjoy in their retirement. This couple had choices to make when they were younger and their wise financial decisions are now paying off for them.
We make choices all the time. There are just all sorts of possibilities for us in the realm of ‘choice.’ In our Old Testament Lesson we heard of a choice that was offered to the people of Israel by their leader. In this very well-known passage you read how Joshua clearly told the people that they have a choice to make. Read with me the first two paragraphs of the Old Testament Lesson with me. [Read Joshua 24:1-2a, 14-15]
Joshua offered the Israelites a choice. He said to them, “…Choose this day whom you will serve…” (Joshua 24.15) Life is full of choices, isn’t it? But life is also full of things that we don’t have the ability to choose. Let me give you an example. All you have to do is to look at me and you can see that I am not built for speed. Through genetics and how I eat, I’ve become a guy that carries around near 250 pounds wherever I go. Even if I were to slim down all I could, I would still weigh about 215 pounds. The very lightest that I have ever been as an adult is 213 pounds. Now as a person of my corporeal configuration, I know that there are things that I can do and things that I can’t or shouldn’t try to do. I would not make a good ballet dancer – that would not be good choice of career for me. I would not make a good living at running track and field. I know that I would not be very good as a flying trapeze artist and so that wouldn’t cut it as a career choice for me. I know that I would not shine in either leather pants or in a Speedo swim suit – and so I can forget high diving or modeling. The point that I am making is that there are choices that are beyond our reach.
Let me give you an example of another. Let us suppose that our brother Rudy Soria decides to throw a big shindig at his home one day. He prepares to serve the finest of foods. If he extends an invitation to me, I have a choice – I can choose to accept and receive the blessing or to not accept. But if Rudy doesn’t invite me, there is no choice to make – I don’t have the option to receive the delectable fare he is preparing. Now this is an oversimplification, but it helps us to understand what was going on when Joshua said to the Israelites, “…Choose this day whom you will serve…”
You see, if God had not offered the invitation, the choice could never have happened. That’s the way it is when we speak about our capacity to choose for God. Without God taking the initiative, choosing for God is something that we can’t do on our own. God is beyond our capacity to grasp. We cannot choose to love God on our own. We cannot choose to serve Him with our whole heart and mind and soul on our own. The Scriptures say, “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:14) Simply stated it means that in things spiritual, a person not led by the Spirit of God just doesn’t have a clue.