150830 Joshua 24:14-15

Last Updated on Sunday, 30 August 2015 Written by Pastor Schmidt

Text: Joshua 24:14 – 15

Theme: Serve the Lord with Gladness!

What is your reaction when you hear the Pastor or other leaders of the Church talk about stewardship? Maybe you are like many who hear the word "stewardship" and you immediately think of money. But, it is important for all of us to remember that a gracious Lord has given you and me so many more blessings in addition to the money that he provides for us. He has also given us our time and the talents that you and I have. What is your reaction when you hear the plea looking for people to use their time and talents in some area of our congregation's ministry? Do your eyes go down, with the thought, "I hope they don't ask me." Or maybe the thought comes to mind, "Why do they ask me? Don't they know that I am already busy enough with things at home and at work." Or, "I did my time...it's now time for the next generation to step up!" But it is important for you and me to remember that as Christians, everything we do at home, everything we do at work, everything we do for the Church, all this is service to the Lord. Today you and I want to spend some time talking about our service to the Lord. The encouragement that you I hear from God's Word is "Serve the Lord with Gladness!" Listen now as I read a portion of the First Lesson for this weekend's worship. I am reading from Joshua chapter 24, verses 14 and 15:

Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshipped 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.

As I read these two verses from God's Word, did you notice anything? God's personal name, "The LORD" is used twice in each verse. Joshua wanted the Children of Israel to remember who it is that they are serving. It is the LORD. This is the first important point for you and me to remember. You and I aren't able to talk about serving the Lord with gladness until we first remember who it is that we are serving. It is the one true God. It is the God of love and faithfulness. It is only out of grace, our God's great undeserved love, that our LORD chose you and me to be his own special people. Because of our sins, we were born into this world as just the opposite. We are born natural enemies of our God. In the letter to the Romans we read in chapter 8, "The sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so."

Yet out of undeserved love and mercy, our LORD pledges to take care of our great spiritual need. It is God alone who made us his own children. As God so clearly states in his Word in chapter two of Paul's letter to the Ephesians, "But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved." In a wedding service, the young man and woman who are getting married, make a promise or a pledge to one another. That pledge is that they will live their entire married lives together making the interests and well-being of the other person a top priority. As our Lord in heaven pledges himself to us, he makes our spiritual well-being a top priority. He did this as he sent his only Son to this earth, to live and to die in our place. Jesus fulfilled the promise of the LORD as he faithfully offered up his life as the payment price for your sins and mine.

Now the question is, how can you and I as Christians say thank-you to our Savior-God for all that he has done, and all that he continues to do for us, through our Savior, Jesus Christ? The answer? In response to his great love, you and I will serve the LORD with gladness!

Serving the LORD with gladness is a choice for you and me to make. As Joshua says, "But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve. . ." Before we go any farther, it is important to note that this verse of Scripture is one of the most misunderstood and misused passages in all of Scripture. Many teachers of the Bible will claim that this is a passage that supports "decision theology". This is a teaching which says, "I can decide for myself whether or not I will believe in Jesus as my Savior. I will decide to accept him into my heart." However, these words from Joshua to God's people are understood correctly when we remember that Joshua is speaking to people who already believed in the LORD. The LORD is the one who had chosen them to be his own. The Bible clearly teaches that the power to change an unbeliever into a believer is from God alone. 1 Corinthians 12 reads, "No one can say, 'Jesus is Lord,' except by the Holy Spirit.'" While God's people can NOT choose themselves into God's family, they can choose to walk away from him. So, God's Word encourages his people to recommit themselves their LORD. This is not a response to be put off for another day or for a more convenient time. Joshua uses words such as "now" and "this day". Now is the time to serve the LORD with gladness. Now is the time to live for LORD. Now is the time to make the promise to remain faithful to the LORD and say, "But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD."

How can you and I gladly serve the LORD? By remaining faithful to him who has been faithful to us. You and I serve the LORD by never losing sight of God's love for each and every one of us. We serve the LORD by keeping our eyes fixed on the cross, where your and my Savior, Jesus Christ, offered himself as the full and payment price for all our sins. This will lead to serving the LORD with gladness as we offer him thanks that his grace has made us part of his heavenly family. We are able to serve the LORD with gladness as we continue to gather together for worship, as we read his Word and as we make use of the Sacraments that our God has given to us. We serve the LORD with gladness by looking for ways that we can use our time, talents and treasures to carry out the ministry he has given to us. We serve the LORD with gladness, as we set a Christ-like example, in our homes, at work or at school.

My dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, are you struggling to serve the LORD with gladness? Go back to your Bibles and read again for yourself about the LORD's great love for you. Go back to the cross and see your Savior die in your place. Go back to the empty tomb, and see the risen Lord guarantee you that all of your sins are paid for in full. As your heart fills with joy and thankfulness for the love God the Father showed to you through his one and only Son, Jesus your Savior, by the power of God the Holy Spirit, recommit yourself this day to living a life of serving the LORD with gladness. Recommit yourself to a life that brings only praise and honor to our loving Savior-God. May God the Holy Spirit fill the hearts of each of us, so that, by the power of God's Word, you and I are able to say along with Joshua, "As for me and my household we will serve the LORD."

 

 

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Compelled by the love of Christ, St. Matthew’s Evangelical Lutheran Church and School seek to reach out to our families, community and world, using Law and Gospel to make disciples, growing and nurturing them in their Christian faith and life.

 

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818 West Wisconsin Avenue
Oconomowoc, WI 53066
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