“CHOOSING TO LEAD”
INTRO: 1. If there was any one man out of the pages of the Old Testament that would most impress us if he could stand behind this pulpit this morning it would be Joshua.
a. A man of courage. Leading the children of Israel into the promise land willingly facing the challenges that crossed his path.
b. A man of Integrity. The type of man you could trust with your life. An entire nation of men was willing to follow his most seemingly ridiculous command.
c. A man of Conviction. What he believed was no secret, nor was there the slightest hint of wavering in his faith.
2. He cannot stand here this morning, but the message he preached to the children of Israel is recorded here in God’s Word.
a. Not just any message, this was Joshua’s final message.
b. This was the “last will and testament” of this legendary man of God.
c. There was one great truth that he wanted to leave with those he loved the dearest.
3. This last message was directed to the Fathers of Israel.
a. As a father of the nation and of his own household he commended Fathers to follow his example.
Josh. 24:15 ...but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.
b. Joshua knew that a nation was only as strong as it’s Fathers.
c. Joshua knew that the father holds in his power the security of today and the potential of tomorrow.
4. This truth is one that our society is just now beginning to again realize.
a. For years our society has devalued the father and has reaped the disastrous fruit of it’s actions.
b. Even sadder is the fact that many a dad has bought into the lie that their role as “dad” is somehow insignificant.
c. A crucial key to the healing of our crumbling society must be dads who have “Chosen to lead”.
d. Nothing more important than you can be than a Dad.
ILL. I recently read a story from a dad that I found to be cute.:
Blythe is a desert town on the Arizona-California border. My family and I were on our way back home from vacation when we stopped at a McDonald’s in Blythe. Lauretta, my wife, asked me to hold Mary, our eighteen-month old, while she went to the restroom and our three sons romped in the play area. Picture me holding my daughter, a few feet from the restroom doors, as "The Babe from Blythe" emerged from behind those doors. She was gorgeous and she was looking right at me, smiling warmly! I straightened up and smiled back, flush with the adolescent conceit that even though I was much older than she was, I must still be a very attractive man. Babes still take notice! Our smiles and eyes met for longer than a mere random encounter as she walked past. Then I noticed my reflection in the mirror along the wall and saw who she was smiling at. It was me, all right, but it wasn’t Ben Patterson the Hunk. It was Ben Patterson, Mary’s Daddy. Middle aged, a little lumpy, and holding a precious child. That’s what delighted "The Babe." My first reaction was embarrassment. Silly fool, you aren’t what you thought you were! But as I continued to look in the mirror, I decided I like what I saw there more. I like being Mary’s Daddy. I like it a lot.
5. Joshua, encouraged the men of his day to be what God had designed them to be - Spiritual Leaders.
I. IT’S A CHOICE THAT CAN’T WAIT.
a. You can sense the urgency in Joshua’s voice.
Josh. 24:15 And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.
b. This was serious business for this man of God, business to be dealt with today.
c. ILL. I heard the song ‘Cat’s in the Cradle’ played this morning—a powerful reminder of how important our choices today will impact our future as Parents… Your kid’s need you now, no matter how young or old they are.
A. IT CAN’T WAIT FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE TO GET IN ORDER.
1. Being a Good Father won’t wait for you to get the promotion you’ve always dreamed, it won’t wait for the finances to get better, it won’t wait for tomorrow - it must be dealt with today.
2. ILL. Just ask King David - an excellent warrior, a legendary king, a great worshipper - but a lousy dad. David had all the bases covered in his life, but in his old age he would pay dearest for his failure as a father.
B. IT CAN’T WAIT FOR YOUR CHILDREN TO GET OLDER.
1. Some fathers live with the delusion that “I’ll wait until my child is older, then they can understand better and get more out of my fathering.”
2. Some believe that their relationship with their children will just get better ’all by itself.’
3. ILL. Eli was a wonderful man of God, such a man that God would entrust the training of the prophet Samuel, but when it came to his own sons who were living in open sin (as priests) Eli chose to look the other way - But God held Eli responsible for his sons.
C. IT’S A CHOICE THAT IS BEING MADE FOR YOU, IF YOU PUT IT OFF.
1. If as fathers we choose to ignore the God-given responsibility we have been given, we unknowingly are sowing seeds of wickedness that is destined to confront us.
2. A mother can supply a great wealth of training in the lives of their children, but they can never supply what God has called you to supply.
3. A.B. Simpson called this the “wickedness of weakness” when we men refuse to fulfill our place as the Spiritual head of our household.
4. ILL. It was this “wickedness of weakness “ that was at the root of Adam’s original sin, Ahab’s degradation, Solomon’s fall, and Herod’s murder of John the Baptist.
5. Joshua tells us it’s time to choose to be the spiritual head of our household today!
II. IT’S A CHOICE TO LEAD.
a. Joshua let it be known that he would let no one take from him the God given responsibility of his house, even if the entire nation went their own way.
b. His leadership of Israel was secondary to his leadership as a Husband and a Father.
c. Joshua is calling every dad to take a stand today and ’choose to lead.’
A. AGAINST THE TIDE OF POPULAR OPINION.
1. Joshua made it clear before anyone else made the choice that he was going to lead his family God’s way even if every one of them chose to do otherwise.
2. He was talking to lifelong friends, family members, and to his nation - he was now committed to be a godly dad.
3. Today, we must set our face against the tide of “careless dads”, “easy divorce”, and “boys that refuse to grow up.”
ILL. In an article entitled "Fathering Fatherless America" Dr. Scott J. Larson reports: One in two children now grow up without a father in the United States, and in our inner cities only one in five children live with their father. A whole new mission field has developed in America: Fathering fatherless kids.
B. TO TAKE THE SPIRITUAL LEAD.
1. Joshua was not calling for a physical lead, that already was the case in his culture, he wanted to see more Spiritual leadership in the home.
2. Gods’ Word speaks of the “head of the house” it’s not referring to some macho tyrant, but one who answers to God for that house.
3. Thank God for Godly Mothers, but let me assure you they don’t let us off the hook - the bible is clear that God holds the man responsible for the spiritual condition of his house.
4. ILL. A young man had grown to make his father very proud as a successful accountant, until one day he was arrested for embezzling, in the courtroom this young man seemed unconcerned and unaffected by the charges. But when he was told to rise for his sentencing, his father stood as well. At that, the young man was crushed with shame and guilt of what he had done - a father had taken responsibility for the moral failure of son.
C. TO KNOW WHERE YOU’RE LEADING THEM.
1. Leadership demands direction, we can’t lead others until we have a direction for our lives - a purpose in our parenting.
2. What do you most want to see as a result of your years as a Father?
3. Joshua’s life had been a life committed, not to his own dreams, but to the divine purpose that was on his life.
4. He lead his family to embrace God’s purpose for their lives.
5. He lead them to embrace the time they were in - to see God’s possibility in every obstacle.
6. But most of all he lead his family to embracing God - to make their life an ever-expanding relationship with Jehovah.
III. IT’S A CHOICE TO SERVE.
a. He committed himself as well as his family to “serve the Lord”.
b. For Joshua serving the Lord was a lifestyle, not just a profession.
A. NOT JUST ENCOURAGING, BUT SERVING.
1. Joshua was not the type of man that told his family what they should do, he showed them what they should do.
2. It’s useless to encourage our kids to do what we ourselves are unwilling to do.
3. Joshua demonstrated to his children a love for the Word, a habit of worship and sacrifice, and a life filled with prayer.
B. NOT JUST IN THE BACKGROUND, BUT OPENLY SERVING.
1. Joshua was not a “secret saint”, his commitment to God was not kept a secret from his family as well.
2. Your children know if your service to God is a chore or a delight.
3. Your children know if your service to God is done with embarrassment or with honor.
4. ILL. I heard a touching story about a humble, consecrated pastor whose young son had become very ill. After the boy had undergone an exhaustive series of tests, the father was told the shocking news that his son had a terminal illness. The youngster had accepted Christ as his Savior, so the minister knew that death would usher him into Glory; but he wondered how to inform one in the bloom of youth that he soon would die. After earnestly seeking the direction of the Holy Spirit, he went with a heavy heart through the hospital ward to the boy’s bedside. First he read a passage of Scripture and had a time of prayer with his dear child. Then he gently told him that the doctors could promise him only a few more days to live. "Are you afraid to meet Jesus, my boy?" asked his devout father. Blinking away a few tears, the little fellow said bravely, "No, not if He’s like you, Daddy!"
IV. IT’S A CHOICE TO KEEP.
a. This choice was so important that Joshua set up a memorial stone at Shechem to serve as a testament and reminder of what they had promised that day.
b. We must with the same seriousness set ourselves on keeping this choice alive.
A. A VOW TO MAKE.
1. This stone was a mark of the covenant they made with God, a covenant of service for themselves and their families.
2. It’s a vow that will shape not only our lives but the generations we leave behind.
3. It’s a vow we make to God, not just to ourselves.
B. A MEMORIAL TO BUILD.
1. We must make this vow a memorial in our lives, a place to return to be reminded of the seriousness of what we’ve set out to do.
2. Like Joshua who was now an old man, it’s not a vow we forget as our children grow up and leave our homes - but it’s one we hold tightly to.
3. ILL. A minister in Cincinnati, Ohio told of a service were he felt lead to ask if anyone there was sick of sin and needed to be prayed with. A young man in dirty clothes stood and asked to be prayed with. He was a drunk that had left home years ago and wondered. Upon salvation he wrote home and told his mom. she quickly wrote him back telling him that at the time he had given his heart to God, his dad was on his death bed. He had been tossing to and fro praying “O, God save my poor drunken wandering boy today”. This father died committed to the child God gave him.
CONCLUSION: Would you be man enough this morning to make the commitment Joshua made? To choose to lead your family God’s way?