SER # 43Wa
FIRST UMC – NEBRASKA CITY
ALL SAINTS SUNDAY
SUNDAY NOVEMBER 8TH 2020
TEXTS: JOSHUA 24: 1 – 3a; 14 – 25
THEME: WHO DO YOU CHOOSE TO SERVE?
In our passage today people had already settled in the promised land. God had fulfilled his promise to his people and all was going on well. Then people started turning their attention to other gods of the land and forgot the Yahweh or the I AM God who had delivered them from the land of bondage in Egypt to the promised land. The writer of Deuteronomy had warned the people of Israel of what might happen when they got to the promised land. “For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land – a land with brooks, streams, and deep springs gushing out into the valley and hills; a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey; a land where bread will not be scarce and you will lack nothing; a land where rocks are iron and you can dig copper out of the hills. When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the LORD your God for the good land he has given you. Be careful that you do not forget the LORD your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. Otherwise, when you eat and be satisfied, when you build houses and settle down and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery” (Deuteronomy 8: 7 – 14). This caught up with them, that why Joshua wanted them to declare who they wanted to serve. There were so many influences that had been carried little by little from the people that the Israelites encountered on their way to the promised land. People had started drifting away because all was well and it seemed as though the God who was their deliverer may not have much of the room because all is peaceful.
In life we are faced with many choices to make. Choices in regards to our; family, our career, morality, health, friends to have around, where to shop, to some, what kind of car they wish to drive, where do their kids go to school. This list can go on and on. But today the question that Joshua puts before people is not the choice in terms of material preferences but rather a spiritual choice. It is the same spiritual question we need to ask ourselves, who do we choose to serve today? We also know our spirituality can be affected by other choices that we make. As we reflect on this passage, and if our choice is to serve the Living God (Yahweh), we have the following faith lesson to learn that would help us in our faith walk with God:
- Serve God Honestly and faithfully: When we make the choice of serving God, we have to do it in two ways: a) serve God honestly: This call us to be open and ready to be vulnerable before God. We can’t keep secrets from God. We have to open up before God when we fail and act in a wrong way. “remember it is to the LORD only have we sinned.” Being honest in God’s service invites us to be honest with those we are serving and make sure that you have no hidden agenda in offering your service. Nothing to hid. b) Serve faithfully: What does this mean in our everyday life? When we are faithful in our service is when we do what is right without being supervised. When we act faithfully even when we would have acted otherwise. God invites faithful servant to his kingdom. Faithful people do what their master requires of them: do no good, do no harm and stay connected with God.
- Serve the LORD your God: The people in Joshua time were influenced by different gods of the people they interacted with on the journey. First in the land of Egypt, people there worshipped all kinds of gods (gods of fertility, moon, rain, harvest, etc). In the land they settled there were also people who worshipped idols. As God invited the people of old to make a choice on whom they wanted to serve we are faced with the same choice that we need to make today. Unlike the olden times where the gods of the day were items made by human hand to represent their god, today people worship different type of gods. Some worship money, power, career, ethnicity, success, education just to mention a few. When Joshua was faced with a choice to make in those days this is what he told the people; Put aside the gods that your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates and in Egypt and serve the LORD. But if it seems wrong in your opinion to serve the LORD, then, choose today whom you will serve. Choose the gods whom your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you live. But my family and I will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24: 14b – 15). When we allow any item to take the place of God, we are breaking part of the commandment that God gave us. You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in the heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below……. (Exodus 20: 2f). When we allow money for example to control how we act, who we love then we are serving money. That is why be say or believe money is not everything for if it was then it would be God. The word of God remind us we can’t serve two masters. “No one can serve two masters. Either you hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money” (Matthew 6: 24).
- Be a witness of God’s Working: God invites us to be witnesses of his mighty works. There three ways I believe that one can be a witness. One, can witness what we have seen: The people of Israel had seen God do many miracles in front of them. Parting of the Red Sea. “As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the LORD…….Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the LORD drove the Sea back with strong east wind and turned into dry land. The waters were divided and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left” (Exodus 14: 10; 21 -22). Parting of the Jordan river “Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the Ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away at a town called Adam in the vicinity of Zarethan, while water flowing down the sea of the Arabah (that is dead sea) was completely cut off. So, the people crossed over opposite of Jericho” (Joshua 3: 15 – 16). Great things in Egypt that forced Pharaoh to let them go. So, for us today can witness how God has moved mountains for us in our lives. We have seen God change people from real bad people to good people. Some of us have seen their children and family members being transformed in front of them by God. Can we share what we have seen? Two; witness what they have experienced: People of Israel experienced real transformation in their social lives. Their lives were changed from being slaves to free people. They experienced God as a provider and protector in their journey. When we allow ourselves to be used of God, we will truly experience who he is in our life. Some of us have stories of how far the Lord has taken us. some of us we were never born in privilege. Three; witness what they have lived: Each of us has lived a unique life in terms of our connection with God. We have lived a life where we can testify of the goodness of the LORD. This reminds me the words of David as an old man trying to encourage the younger believers. This is what he said “I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread. They are always generous and lend freely; their children will be a blessing” (Psalm 37: 25 – 26).
I read a quote the other day which my wife had forwarded to me which I thought was very powerful when it come to our relationship with God.
“Only God can turn a MESS into a MESSage, a TEST into a TESTmony, a TRIal into a TRIumph, a VICTim into a VICTory. GOD is GOOD all the time”
When we make the right choice of serving our God by blooming wherever he plants us, that will change the world. Imagine if all believers who live in all places of the world committed to serve their God faithfully this world would be a true heaven on this earth.