************ Sermon on Joshua 24:15b ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on June 29, 2003
"As For Me and My House"
I Every Home Serves Someone or Something
A Some of you might recognize the name Bob Dylan. He was famous in the 60s and 70s for his music. He had this to say in one of the songs he wrote after his conversion:
You may be an ambassador to England or France;
You may like to gamble, you might like to dance;
You may be the heavy-weight champion of the world;
You may be a socialite with a long string of pearls;
But you're gonna have to serve somebody.
Yes indeed you're gonna have to serve some body.
Well it may be the devil or it may be the Lord but you're gonna have to serve somebody.
Bob Dylan has it right: every home, every person, has to serve somebody. So let me ask: Whom do you serve? What do you serve? Is it money, work, sports, cars, cows, pleasure, alcohol or is it the LORD? Who or what is served in your home?
B At the end of his life Joshua spoke to Israel some parting words of wisdom. He says,
"Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve ..."You got to pick and choose according to Joshua. You have to make a choice. You have to make up your mind. You can't serve one thing 50% and something else 30% and a third thing 20%.
When I became an American citizen, I was asked to renounce all commitments and allegiance to any other country and to pledge 100 percent allegiance to America. Then and only then did the U.S. Government grant me citizenship.That's also the way it is when choosing a god. You can't "split time" by serving Satan part-time and Christ part-time. No god settles for less than 100%. A house that tries part-time service of any god is a house divided against itself. Sooner or later it will collapse.
In speaking to Israel, Joshua also lays out their choices for them. By God's grace and Spirit, you can decide to serve the LORD. The LORD, of course, is the Creator, the source of life and being, the God of the covenant, the God Who loves us in Christ. Or, you can decide to serve the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites. Pick one of them. You got to serve someone so pick and choose.
C I am sure you know your choice affects you for good or for evil for eternity. Choosing for the LORD means happiness, joy, peace, healing, and security – all for eternity. Choosing for the LORD means living with God and fully enjoying Him and His wonderful, glorious presence forever (Rev 21:3). Choosing for the LORD means He will wipe every tear from your eyes. Choosing for the LORD means no more death or mourning or crying or pain (Rev 21:4).
And, choosing for anything else means destruction, hell, fire, pain, agony, and never ending death. Choosing for anything else means eternity in the fiery lake of burning sulfur (Rev 21:8). Choosing anything else means continual darkness and weeping and gnashing of teeth Mt 25:30).
D Did you also know that your choice affects your children, and your children's children, for good or for evil too?
In terms of evil I think of one of the most awful stories in the Bible – the story of Achan. Achan's heart served money, wealth, and material things. His heart was filled with covetous desires. So he took out of Jericho what belonged to the Lord: a beautiful robe from Babylonia, two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold weighing fifty shekels (Josh 7:21). Achan's sin had two consequences. First, it resulted in the defeat of Israel when she fought against the small city of Ai. Second, it resulted in Achan and his family being stoned to death.
Why should Israel and Achan's family suffer for Achan's sin? The Bible teaches us here about corporate guilt. Nowhere does the Bible teach a rugged individualism. Our sin always infects and affects others. Think of the third commandment where God says:
(Ex 20:5) "I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me ..." Think also of the sin of our first parents, Adam and Eve in the Garden. Because of their sin every member of the human race is born with original sin; because of their sin every member of the human race is conceived and born in sin; because of their sin every member of the human race is guilty in God's sight and deserves hell. Because of corporate guilt, Achan's choice of a god meant destruction for his family and defeat for Israel.
When parents choose evil, their choice affects their children. But when parents choose good, their choice also affects their children. Just as there is corporate guilt, so there is corporate good. That's why Joshua says, "As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD."
We see numerous examples of this in the Bible. I think of Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira. The LORD opened her heart to respond to Paul's message. And "she and the members of her household were baptized" (Acts 16:15). I think of the Philippian jailer. Paul said, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved--you and your household" (Acts 16:31). He not only believed but he also washed the wounds of Paul and Silas. Then immediately he and all his family were baptized (Acts 16:33).
I have to insert a word of caution here. The Bible is only laying down a general rule. It does not apply in every situation. We all know children of God-fearing parents who choose evil instead of good. And, we all know parents of God-fearing children who choose evil. Nevertheless, the general principle still applies. The god we choose to serve impacts our children and our grand-children to the third and fourth generation.
Fathers, Mothers, when you live for the Lord, you provide a strong incentive for your children to choose the Christian way of life. Parental example is extremely powerful – either for good or for evil.
So I ask you again: Whom do you serve? What do you serve? Is it money, work, sports, cars, cows, pleasure, alcohol or is it the LORD? Who or what is served in your home?
II What it Means to Serve the Lord
A "As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord." Practically speaking, what does this mean?
Today, Schalk and Angela are professing their faith. And, in 5 weeks they hope to get married in this church. Theirs will be a Christian marriage. They have made a commitment to serve the Lord in their home. This means that they will not be living alone in their house. And, this means there will be more than just the two of them on the honeymoon. No, none of their brothers or sisters are moving in with them. Let me explain what I am saying by means of a story:
Topic: MarriageThose homes that choose to serve the Lord have made a decision to ask the Lord Jesus into their marriage, into their home, and even along on their honeymoon.
Title: The Only Right Marriage Triangle
Although we usually think of a marriage triangle as a dangerous situation, there is one sense in which a third person could create the right triangle.
Viola Walden tells the story of a newly married couple riding a train on their honeymoon. A silver-haired man leaned across the aisle and asked, "Is there a third party going with you on your honeymoon?" The couple looked at him strangely; then he added, "When Sarah and I were married, we invited Jesus to our marriage. One of the first things we did in our new home was to kneel and ask Jesus to make our marriage a love triangle -- Sarah, myself, and Jesus. And all three of us have been in love with each other for all 50 years of our married life."
B "But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord." Those homes that live by this text worship the Lord. Over and over again in the Old Testament the word used for "serve" is found within the context of worship. For instance, Moses asked Pharaoh to let the people go so they can serve, i.e. worship, the Lord in the desert (Ex 3:12; 4:23; 7:16; 10:26). Corporate, family, and personal worship are all included in this concept of service. Those homes that serve the Lord, faithfully gather together with His people every Sunday for joyful worship, praise, and song. Those homes that serve the Lord also have a family altar, a time of daily Bible reading and prayer. Those homes that serve the Lord spend time with Him in personal devotions.
C "But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord." Those homes that live by this text are obedient to the Lord. The word used for "serve" is the same word used to describe the obedience of a slave to a master. There is one big difference, however. A slave is obedient because he or she has to be; a slave is in bondage and has no choice. Those who obey God, however, do so joyfully, willingly, and eagerly.
Consider the case of Israel. In our passage Joshua speaks to Israel after she has finally entered the Promised Land. He reminds the people of seven great deeds done by the Lord to bring them into the land: the child of promise to an elderly Abraham, the plagues of Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea, the destruction of the Amorites, the defeat of Balak, the tumbling down of the walls of Jericho, victories against many enemies (Josh 24:2-13). On the basis of all that He has done for them, the Lord claims the total loyalty of Israel:
(Josh 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."Israel has been set free, redeemed, ransomed. Now, she should want to serve God and be eager to do His will.
As people set free, redeemed, and ransomed by the blood of the Lamb, we should also want to serve God and be eager to do His will.
D "But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord." Those homes that live by this text witness about the Lord. I can't help but think here of Paul. Over and over again he identifies himself as a servant of Jesus Christ (Rom 1:1) and the Gospel. Paul is filled with a burning desire to tell others about the Lord and the Gospel of grace and salvation. And, in more than one place, he calls us to follow his example. Like him we are to be servants of Christ and the Gospel. Like him we are to be witnesses.
III Difficult/Costly to Serve the Lord
A I want to ask you again: Whom do you serve? What do you serve? Is it money, work, sports, cars, cows, pleasure, alcohol or is it the LORD? Who or what is served in your home? Joshua tells us what he has decided: "But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord." By grace, is this your choice as well?
Don't answer too quickly. Don't say "Yes" too readily. I have to say this because nowhere does the Bible tell us that it is easy to serve the Lord Jesus.
Consider the case of Israel. Joshua says, "But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord." And the people, they make the same declaration. "Are you sure?" asks Joshua. "What makes you think you can serve the LORD? He is a holy God. He is a jealous God. He will not tolerate it if you serve someone or something else." Four times Joshua challenges the people in this fashion, and four times the people swear to serve the Lord and only the Lord (Josh 24:16,21,22,24).
B Now, I need to ask you the same question Joshua asked Israel: Are you sure you want to serve the Lord? What makes you think you can serve the Lord? He is a holy God; He is a jealous God. He will not tolerate it if you serve someone or something else. So, are you sure?
Speaking in the New Testament, Jesus advises us to add up the cost before we, by grace, decide to follow Him. He says,
(Lk 14:26-30) "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters--yes, even his own life--he cannot be my disciple. (27) And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. (28) "Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? (29) For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, (30) saying, 'This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.'
Have you added up the cost of following Jesus? Have you added up the cost of serving the Lord? Jesus doesn't tells us the cost is nothing. Following Jesus could mean suffering, it could cost us our family or our job, it could cost us ridicule, it could even cost us our life.
The Bible says serving Jesus is like a merchant looking for fine pearls (Mt 13). When he finds a pearl of real worth, he sells everything he has and buys that pearl. The point is, when man finds Jesus, it costs him everything. How much does it cost? Listen to the following modern version of Jesus' parable:
Topic: StewardshipEverything: that's the cost of following Jesus; that's the cost of serving the Lord.
Title: You Are Not Your Own
A man finds a great pearl and says, "I want this pearl. How much does it cost?"
The seller says, "It's too dear, too costly."
"But how much?"
"Well, it's very expensive."
"Do you think I could buy it?"
"Oh, of course. Anybody can."
"But you say it's too expensive. How much is it?"
"It costs everything you have -- no more, no less -- so anybody can buy it."
"I'll buy it"
"What do you have? Let's write it down."
"I have $10,000 in the bank."
"Good, $10,000. What else?"
"I have nothing more. That's all I have."
"Have you nothing more?"
"Well, I have some dollars here in my pocket."
"I'll see: 30, 40, 50, 80, 100, 120 -- 120 dollars."
"That's fine. What else do you have?"
"I have nothing else. That's all."
"Where do you live?"
"I live in my house."
"The house too."
"Then you mean I must live in the garage?"
"Have you a garage, too? That too. What else?"
"Do you mean that I must live in my car, then?"
"Have you a car?"
"I have two."
"Both become mine. Both cars. What else?"
"I have nothing else."
"Are you alone in the world?"
"No, I have a wife, two children.... "
"Your wife and your children too. What else?"
"I have nothing else, I am left alone now."
"Oh, you too. Everything. Everything becomes mine: wife, children, house, garage, cars, money, clothing, everything. And you too."
-- Juan Ortiz
"But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord." I hope and I pray that Jesus is central to every marriage and to every home. I hope and I pray that whatever the cost you, by grace, choose to serve the Lord – Who is the God that loves us in Christ.
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