120902 Joshua 24:14-18

Last Updated on Sunday, 02 September 2012 Written by Pastor Schmidt

Text: Joshua 24:14 - 18
Theme: We will Serve the LORD!


1. By Remembering the LORD'S Faithfulness
2. By Remaining Faithful to the LORD
14 "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.
15 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."
16 Then the people answered, "Far be it from us to forsake the LORD to serve other gods!
17 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. He protected us on our entire journey and among all the nations through which we traveled.
18 And the LORD drove out before us all the nations, including the Amorites, who lived in the land. We too will serve the LORD, because he is our God."

Which came first, the chicken or the egg? This is a question some people have a difficult time answering. But for us who believe the Bible when it tells us that the Almighty Lord created all things during the six days of creation, including all the animals on the earth, then we answer that the chicken came first and then the egg. Which comes first: our serving the Lord or his serving us? Again, we who know the Bible as the true Word of God know that we aren't able to talk about our service to the Lord until we first talk about what a loving and merciful God did for us. In response to Jesus living and dying in our place, in response to the gift of the forgiveness of all of our sins, we offer our Savior the thanks and praise he alone deserves as we live for him. It is in response to the great love of Jesus that we will serve the Lord. We will serve our Lord by remembering the LORD's faithfulness to us; and, by remaining faithful to the LORD.

Joshua knew that his time on this earth would soon come to an end. He knew that soon the Lord would call him away from the people he had loved, served and led for so many years. Before he left them, Joshua and the Children of Israel remembered the faithfulness of the LORD. We read the words of the people beginning at verse 16, "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. He protected us on our entire journey and among all the nations through which we traveled. And the LORD drove out before us all the nations, including the Amorites, who lived in the land." God's chosen people remembered the Lord's faithful love for them: love that promised to send them a Savior; love that provided for their physical needs as they traveled from Egypt into the Promised Land.

This is the first important point for us to remember. You and I aren't able to talk about serving our God until we first remember the faithfulness of the LORD to us. It is only out of grace, our God's great undeserved love, that our LORD chooses us 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."
During 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 well-being a top priority. He made our spiritual well-being a top priority by sending his only Son to this earth, to die in our place. By his grace alone, faith is placed in our hearts, and the forgiveness Jesus won for all people is ours to enjoy. We are also thankful that our LORD makes our physical well-being a top priority. Just as he cared for the children of Israel on their long journey to the promise land, so also he daily watches over us and protects us. He graciously gives us the food we enjoy and the clothes that we ware. He provides the healing we need when we are hurt, and the comfort we need when we are sad. Day after day our LORD God reminds us of his faithfulness to us.
It certainly is a gracious God who has shown his faithfulness to us. But, now the question is, how is it that we as Christians can say thank-you to our Savior-God for all that he has done, and continues to do for us? The answer? We will serve the LORD! How? By remaining faithful to him.

Joshua tells us how God's chosen people are able to remain faithful to him. He says, "Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness." God's people are told that they are to "fear the LORD." Unlike a child who may be afraid to go near a parent who is abusive or cruel, Christians aren't afraid to turn to their Father in heaven. The fear we have for our God is not the same as "being afraid" of him. In Psalm 130 we read these words, "But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared." "To fear the LORD" means to hold him awe; to give him the honor he alone deserves in response to the forgiving love he has showered down upon us. The fact that we have been shown such a great measure of our God's love and are forgiven of all of our sins, produces the very opposite of dread or fear. Joshua also reminds God's people that they will desire to "serve him with all faithfulness." Commenting about this, one author has written: "The service we promise to our God includes our worship, our trust, our love and our willing obedience to his will for our lives."

Whom will you give your service to? The choice is yours to make. 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 rest of Scripture 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.'" As we talked about last weekend, God's people are NOT able to choose themselves into God's family. But, they are able to 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 a more convenient time. Joshua uses words such as "now" and "this day". Now is the time to live for LORD. Now is the time to make the promise to remain faithful to the LORD. Now is the time to say along with Joshua, "But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD."

How are you and I able to serve the LORD? Certainly we are able to serve the Lord as we use our time, talents and treasures to serve others in our families, in our neighborhoods, at work and here at church. But, God's Word before us today reminds us that we are able to serve the Lord by remaining faithful to him. We serve the LORD by shutting out the distraction of this sinful world. We 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 focused on the cross, where our Savior, Jesus Christ, offered himself as the full and payment price for all of your sins and mine. We serve the LORD as we offer him thanks that his grace has made us part of his heavenly family. We are able to offer faithful service the LORD 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. As your heart fills with joy and thankfulness for these wonderful gifts from the gracious hand of our LORD, by the power of God the Holy Spirit, recommit yourself this day to living a life that remains faithful to him and brings only praise and honor to our loving Savior-God.

How are God's people able to serve their LORD? By remembering his faithfulness to us and by remaining faithful to him. In response to God's grace which made you part of his heavenly family, pray that the Holy Spirit continues to give you the strength and the ability to join with Joshua and promise, "As for me and my household we will serve the LORD."

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