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Summary: God is saying, "It’s your choice. You can choose either blessings or a curse. If you want blessings, then keep my commands." (PowerPoints available - #122)

MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER

RIDGE CHAPEL. KANSAS, OK

(Updated: 2014)

(Powerpoints used with this message are available for free. Just email me at mnewland@sstelco.com and request PP #122.)

A. Last Sunday the Israelites had begun their invasion of the Promised Land.

Now today’s message begins some 5 years later as the invasion has come to an end. God has led them to victory after victory, & now the tribes are ready to scatter out & settle in their allotted portions of the land.

But before they scattered, Joshua summons them to one last great assembly. He is going to give them a farewell speech, & then turn the responsibility of leadership over to the individual tribal leaders.

In his farewell speech, Joshua reminds them how God brought them out of slavery, provided for them & rescued them time & time again during their 40 years in the wilderness.

Now that God has delivered the Promised Land into their hands, Joshua tells them that they have some decisions to make. He says, in Joshua 24:14-15,

“Now fear the Lord and serve Him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord.

“But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living.

“But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

“Then the people answered, ‘Far be it from us to forsake the Lord to serve other gods!’

‘It was the Lord our God himself who brought us and our fathers up out of Egypt, from that land of slavery, and performed those great signs before our eyes.” (Joshua 24:16-17)

B. What an outstanding leader! Joshua challenged them to choose God, & set the example for them by saying, “But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” And they responded by saying that they, too, would serve the Lord.

But I want you to notice how Joshua reacted to their declaration. Joshua 24:19-22 tells us, “Joshua said to the people, ‘You are not able to serve the Lord. He is a holy God; He is a jealous God. He will not forgive your rebellion and your sins.’

‘If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, He will turn and bring disaster on you and make an end of you, after He has been good to you.’

“But the people said to Joshua, ‘No! We will serve the Lord.’ Then Joshua said, ‘You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen to serve the Lord.’ ‘Yes, we are witnesses,’ they replied.”

ILL. Let me read something written by Max Luccado:

"As I work on this manuscript I'm seated at a desk in a hotel room. I'm away from home, away from people who know me, away from family members who love me.

“Voices that encourage & affirm are distant. But voices that tantalize & entice are near. Although the room is quiet, if I listen, their voices are crystal clear.

“A placard on my night stand invites me to the lounge … where it states that I can make new friends in a relaxing atmosphere.” An advertisement on top of the TV promises that with the request of a late night adult movie my fantasies will come true.

"In the phone book, several columns of escort services offer love away from home. …On the TV, a talk show host discusses the day's topic, ‘How to Succeed at Sex in the Office.’

"Voices, some for pleasure, some for power, some promise acceptance, some promise tenderness, but all promise something."

C. With that in mind, let me call your attention to Deuteronomy 11:26 28.

God is speaking to His people & He says, "See, I am setting before you today a blessing & a curse. The blessing if you obey the commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you today;

“the curse if you disobey the commands of the Lord your God & turn from the way that I command you today by following other gods, which you have not known."

God is saying. "It's your choice. You can choose either blessings in your life, or a curse. If you want blessings, then keep my commands. If you want a curse, then disobey my commands & follow other gods."

As you read O.T. history, you'll find over & over again the people enjoyed the blessings of God. God gave them good harvests; their families were healthy & strong & God blessed them with children; God gave them wealth; they had peace & harmony in their society, & defeated their enemies.

But when they turned away from God, His curse fell upon them. Their harvests were not bountiful; plagues swept through the land & thousands died as a result. When enemies attacked them, they were defeated & carried off into bondage.

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