Sunday sermon 12 October – Joshua and his household – what about you?

Readings (Narrative Lectionary): Joshua 24:1-15; Matthew 4:8-10

PRAYER OF THE DAY
God of deliverance, you saved the people of Israel and chose Joshua to lead your people to the Promised Land. Choose us, and equip us to live with faith and peace. We pray these things in the name of Jesus Christ, our Saviour and Lord. Amen.

Sermon

It’s been a busy week. For those who don’t know I was at St Kentigern College from Friday to Tuesday. Friday was inspirational – we had the first national training day for ministers of the Presby church in NZ.
It was about resilience in ministry– and I need that. This ministry thing is a spiritual war. The afternoon session was also helpful – about leadership.

And the rest of the General Assembly week was a blessing – a great key note speaker, wonderful worship – and stories of how God is using Presbyterian Christians to be a blessing in this nation. The networking with fellow pastors and elders was a blessing. Hundreds of leaders in the Presbyterian church together.
Leadership is the key. And Joshua, who features in the narrative lectionary today, is not a bad person to look at for leadership!

Moses’ successor has the unenviable task of leading the people into battle to conquer the land. And God is with Him.

The book of Joshua starts with great courage:
Jos 1:1 After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, the LORD said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide:
Jos 1:2 “Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites.
Jos 1:3 I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses.
Jos 1:5 No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.
Jos 1:6 “Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them.
Jos 1:7 Be strong and very courageous.

He was! And they crossed the Jordan! And got to Jericho.

One of the great highlights of Messy Church this year was when we marched around the walls of Jericho. Brilliant. Ok – they were just boxes – but the story is so inspiring!

This man knew how to hear God. Such an inspiration!

The battles are fierce. He gets the job done.
This passage today is towards the end of his life.
And toward the end when they have conquered the land, Joshua reaches the end of his mission:
Jos 23:1 After a long time had passed and the LORD had given Israel rest from all their enemies around them, Joshua, by then old and well advanced in years,
Jos 23:2 summoned all Israel—their elders, leaders, judges and officials—and said to them: “I am old and well advanced in years.

He calls an Assembly as well. There were decisions to be made – as we did last weekend at our General Assembly.
Joshua reminds them of God’s faithfulness.

He says:
Jos 23:14 “Now I am about to go the way of all the earth. You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the LORD your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed.

What a brilliant thing to say about the faithfulness of God when you reach the end.
I wonder what we will say when our end comes? What will our testimony be?

THE COVENANT RENEWED
At the end he calls all of them together – the whole nation – to renew the covenant.

Chapter 24 doesn’t just talk about Joshua’s triumphs. It goes much further back to Abraham! It’s a vast sweep of their history – showing that the agent – the active one in all of this – is God.

The whole passage is a prophetic word – God speaking through Joshua – it begins with this:
Jos 24:2 Joshua said to all the people, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: verses 2-13 are a broad sweep of the story of God acting for his people.

Well done to the readers today for getting around those names! And yes it’s Perrizites (not Pizza-ites).
At the end of this narrative – this prophetic voice of God reminding them of all that he brought them through – it switches from the prophetic voice of God – to Joshua the leader:
Jos 24:14 “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.
Jos 24:15 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.”

Choices – again choices. They are challenged to renew the covenant – the agreement which is rooted in the heritage from Abraham to Isaac – to Jacob – and Joseph – then Moses – and finally Joshua.
Who are these people? God’s people with this heritage. God’s people who respond to his word and believe.
Not just in their heads.

With their whole heart and life.

They are people of His word. They are the ones of whom Moses wrote:
Deu 6:5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
Deu 6:6 These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.
Deu 6:7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
Deu 6:8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.
Deu 6:9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
Deu 6:10 When the LORD your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you—a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build,
Deu 6:11 houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant—then when you eat and are satisfied,
Deu 6:12 be careful that you do not forget the LORD, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

So what’s it to be in your household?

• Are you part of this great story – this heritage – are you children of the promise too? People of the Word – listening to God?
• And loving Him with all your heart and soul and strength?
• Impressing God’s commands on your children?

For many of us – who impressed them on our children through their childhood – our hearts ache because they have wandered of this path.

We have to claim them back – wrestle with God in prayer – plead with Him to shake them down – somehow – get their attention.

The temptation is there for every generation. Just like Jesus – it’s about whom you serve – who you really worship – who you actually live for!
The short New Testament verse for today sums it up from a Jesus point of view. Listen again:

Mat 4:8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendour.

Mat 4:9 “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
Mat 4:10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.'”

There are always choices – in fact we make this choice daily – to stick to our side of the covenant as God’s people! To serve Him – to worship Him – to obey Him.
And of course Jesus’ nails it because He’s grounded in the Word. “It is written” is probably the most dynamic phrase in this passage of His temptations.

Listen again:
Mat 4:10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.'”

For our children – well if you have a wife like I do – you follow her example. Directly and regularly reminding them of the right way. I may be a preacher by day – I think she’s one by night and by weekend!
When they become adults – our kids often wander off the path. They serve Satan – or other gods.
But we need to keep it up ourselves – more importantly be faithful in our witness to them and others. Don’t neglect worship because it’s inconvenient for your family.

And the choices we make are subtle really. We’re not facing the kind of choices that the persecuted church has to today. I urge you to come to the combined service at 9.00am next week as we hear about the persecuted church today.

I am alarmed at some of the things that can take up our time and energy here – when there are people – our brothers and sisters in Christ – whose lives are on the line because they have said: But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”

They are at risk of being martyred daily. They are being martyred daily.
And here we are complaining about rosters and newsletters because we don’t like the formatting – or because someone got muddled up about who is due to make tea after church.

It’s rather alarming, isn’t it?

Choices.

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

… it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.'”

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About robinpalmer

I am a Presbyterian Pastor living and working in Browns Bay on the North Shore of Auckland in New Zealand. We moved here at the end of March 2011 after spending five years in Wellington the capital city. I am passionate about what I do - about communicating and writing. I also enjoy my counselling work, especially with young people.

Posted on November 23, 2014, in Sunday Morning Sermons. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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