Things to Consider in Choosing Who You will Serve

Choosing To Serve God In A World Full Of Options

Ross Sawyers
Nov 26, 2023    48m
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Have you ever struggled with hesitating between serving God or other things? It's easy to get distracted by the options the world offers. How do you stay focused on choosing to serve God wholeheartedly? This powerful sermon walks through what it takes to make a decisive choice to serve God in a world full of distractions. Learn how reviewing God's faithfulness, making a firm commitment, marking the moment, and living it out can help you stay true to choosing and serving God above all. Video recorded at Grapevine, Texas.

Transcription
messageRegarding Grammar:

This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

Ross Sawyers: [00:00:00] What a fantastic morning in worship and it's been a gift all morning long to see different families with their children and just decisively saying, yes, we're going to raise our kids to follow after Christ.

Ross Sawyers: [00:00:15] If you are wondering why I'm on my phone, a friend sent me a tweet the other day and I wanted to read to you what he said. It's in a bright red color, a little hard to read, but the top of the tweet says, Acts 2:15 #respect my decision. Keep that in mind as I read what he writes. “To Wildcat Nation, over the last four years, I've had the incredible opportunity to serve diligently as a career backup offensive lineman here at Davidson College. While I only played during blowouts or when starters got injured, I refused to let that stop me from being a scrappy, sneaky, athletic, fundamental, high football IQ lunchpail guy. There are countless people who have to thank for making my dream of playing Division one football a reality, but I especially want to express my gratitude to my family, my coaches, Oprah Winfrey, my teammates, Winston Churchill, my friends and all those who've supported me throughout this journey. With that being said, I will be forgoing my remaining eligibility to enter my name into the 2024 NFL draft. Many of you may ask yourselves if he barely saw playing time at a Non-scholarship FCS program, why does this guy think he has any chance in the NFL? This is an entirely reasonable reaction, and I don't blame any of you for thinking this. I'll provide roughly zero on field value for an NFL franchise, but I'd probably be pretty fun to have around. Thank you, Davidson football, it's been an honor and I'll forever be a Wildcat, Barclay Briggs, number 56. Now, if you're wondering what Acts 2:15 says, “For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only the third hour of the day." This young man is making his decision, and he wants you to respect it.

Ross Sawyers: [00:02:20] And I think it's a beautiful tie to Joshua chapter 24. If you'll turn in your Bibles today, if you have them, to Joshua 24. And then for those who don't, we'll have the scripture on the screen, you'll be able to track that way. We always want to tie what we're doing very closely and draw it out of what God says in His word. And when we come to Joshua 24, we've been working through over the fall a series through the book of Joshua, it's the sixth book of the Bible. And if you're newer here, it's absolutely great because this is a fantastic summary of what's going on through Joshua. Moses had led the people for quite a while, and then Joshua became the successor, so it was a succession plan. Joshua takes the lead, and he courageously follows the way God leads him, and he's tracking in what God has and what God has promised. When we come to the end of the book of Joshua, we see Joshua doing like a final kind of a speech first to the leaders, we saw that in Joshua 23. When we come to Joshua 24, he's speaking to the whole nation. So think a presidential address, where the president, a good portion of the time might just talk to Congress and the leaders, but there are times when he believes it's so important that he does a message to the nation, and everything gets put on hold on news stations so that we can see the presidential address. It's a magnitude here of what Joshua is doing, he's spoken to the leaders, now he wants to speak to the nation. God has been faithful, you've been given the land, we've divided out the land, the inheritance that you've each been given. And here's some things that you need to keep in mind now that you have and are part of the promise that God has made.

Ross Sawyers: [00:04:21] Well, that brings us to chapter 24. The big idea running through here is this, and one of the ways that you can figure out in a passage of Scripture, what's the main thing that the author wants us to see here? One way we can see things is when there's a repetition of a word or words. The word serve is in chapter 24 of Joshua fifteen times, four times in relation to serving other gods and eleven times in relation to serving God. So the thing I want us to think about today are things to consider in choosing who you will serve. What are things that we need to consider in light of what Joshua says to the nation when we're considering whom we will serve, who we will ultimately serve, and who will get our allegiances? Joshua, in essence, is cheering them on and saying, you've got two choices, and we'll see this unfold, the choices really are, you can either serve God ultimately and worship him, or you can serve yourself. Because any other God that you choose will ultimately be a God that you've made up for yourself, and that you desire to choose and make ultimate in your own life. That's the choice we find ourselves with in this part of the Scripture.

Ross Sawyers: [00:05:49] So let's begin in chapter 24, verses 1 through 13, what are some things we need to consider in choosing whom will serve? And here we see a review of God's big story. So when we're considering today, whom will we serve? Who will we follow? Who will we give our allegiance to? When we look in the first part of chapter 24, Joshua is about to give this big review of God's story. And I think it's important that we review and remind ourselves often of the big story of God, so that we are right in the middle of and reminded of who our allegiance is towards, and whom do we serve.

Ross Sawyers: [00:06:32] Let's see how he does it, chapter 24, verse 1, "Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem, and called for the elders of Israel and for their heads and their judges and their officers; and they presented themselves before God." So here they are, it's an address to the nation. They've come, they ultimately see themselves as standing before God, as they're considering God's big story and what it is that God has done on their behalf. They're at a place called Shechem that we see in verse 1, that is significant when we look at the bigger picture of God's story. In Genesis chapter 12, God makes a promise to a man at the time whose name was Abram, and he says to him that I'm going to give you a land, I'm going to make you a great nation, and you will be a blessing. Just a few verses later in Genesis 12, Abram follows what God has said to him and goes to the land. And in verses 6 and 7 of Genesis 12, Abraham is in Shechem and God reminds him and says to him, this is the land that will be for your generations. Now, fast forward several hundred years, and here we are, and God is fulfilling his promise in the very place that he said that this would be the land, Shechem is the place that he's letting them know afresh and renewing the covenant that he originally made with them of his promise and his faithfulness to it.

Ross Sawyers: [00:08:08] Now I want us sum verses 2 through 12, and then wrap it up by reading verse 13. What's the review that Joshua gives? Well, he starts by talking about Abraham and then Isaac, his son, and then Joshua, who the line would move through, and the tribes of Israel. So in the first few verses there, he talks about the patriarchs, the founding fathers of the faith. And then he moves, and he talks for just briefly about the Exodus. The people had been in Egyptian slavery for 400 years, God raised Moses up to deliver them in a miraculous fashion. He'd established them as a nation, and now he's bringing them out in fulfillment of what he promised he would do. From there he talks about and says, hey, when you were wandering the wilderness and as you came nearer to the time when you would cross over the Jordan into the land that I promised you, I defeated these particular people, you saw me do it. You saw victory on the other side of the Jordan River.

Ross Sawyers: [00:09:11] Now, just for a mental geography lesson, if we just take Israel kind of being like this right here and on this side, from the way I'm looking at it, it's the Mediterranean Sea and there's the Jordan River, and then modern-day Jordan today, just for a reference point. And in verses 8 through 10 when Joshua is reviewing, he's saying, when you're on this side of the Jordan River, where the current Jordan is today, I defeated these particular people, you saw that defeat. Then they crossed over, and he says this in verses 11 through 12 and then wraps it in verse 13, then he brings them through the Jordan River, miraculously, now they're in the land. They've eliminated a good portion of who's in the land, they've received their inheritance, all the different tribes have divided out. There are still some things remaining to be done with people who are still left, but by and large, here they are, land divided, and God has been faithful to his promise.

Ross Sawyers: [00:10:10] In verse 13, this is what God said, "I gave you a land on which you had not labored, and cities which you had not built, and you have lived in them; you are eating of vineyards and olive groves which you did not plant." We review God's story and we remember it's God who does this, God's the center of the story. They did their part, but ultimately, God is the one who's the center. I think it's cool that in the review of God's Story, that it was not brought up how unfaithful the people of God were so many different times, rather, the focus was on the faithfulness of God. And that's good news for us today, that the faithfulness of God is the point of the story. And when he's reviewing God's story, he's not hammering in or homing in on their failures, rather, he is zoning in on who God is as a faithful God and the rescue and the grace that he has brought about.

Ross Sawyers: [00:11:28] Now some of you became Ranger fans like a couple of months ago. Some of you were Ranger fans way before that and you've just stuck with them. Some of you might be like my two friends at the gym who every time they work out where Texas Rangers shirts, they have done this for years faithfully in the lean years, and now they have their World Series champ t-shirts. I'm sure they have hats, I haven't seen those on them at the gym, but many of you might have that gear. These kinds of things and those kinds of victories don't just happen. Corey Seager, who's the shortstop for the Rangers, spends seven hours before every game breaking down video of all the action and all of his plays, all his at bats, everything he's doing, everything in the game. Seven hours with a private coach, and together they're watching that video, breaking it down so he can get better and better. He's a stud, watching him, and it's obvious he prepares. And this is what he says, "The reason I watch the video and break down the video is because I don't trust my feelings." We get it in our head that it was really like this when I swung at that pitch, or it was really like this when that play happened, but the video doesn't lie, this is what happened. And he reviews it so he can be better.

Ross Sawyers: [00:13:24] God's Word, written, we review the story of God when our feelings, which our feelings are legit, but our feelings can lie to us and deceive us. And we want to keep going back again and again and watching the video of God's story in His word, the truth of his word, and replay the big story of God's faithfulness, his rescue, and his grace, again and again, and again. And as we do that, we'll continue to grow in strength and have the kind of courage that some of these we read about also have. So when we think about who will serve, who we will give our ultimate allegiance to, and who we will follow, we want to review the big story of God and ask then, is it worth it? Is God worth it? Is he worth following?

Ross Sawyers: [00:14:32] And Joshua comes back and says, all right, here's the second thing you need to consider. If this is who God is, this is what he's done, this is the right response to that. Joshua, he feeds them the response, this is the way to respond to who God is, and in verses 14 and through 24 we make our choice. So we consider that big review of God, but then you make your choice. And it's not like he says, hey, tomorrow, make your choice, it's today we're going to make the choice. And I think that's a message for us today, it's not just for them back then, it's for today. Today, what is your choice of who you'll serve? This is a day when you're called to make a choice, to be decisive, like the young man in the tweet.

Ross Sawyers: [00:15:32] Verse 14, “Now, therefore, fear the LORD and serve Him in sincerity and truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD." Now here's what Joshua says, look, this is what God has done, here's what you're to do as the people of God, fear the Lord, reverence him, hold him in awe, and serve him. How? In sincerity and truth with integrity. That everything matches between God's Word and the Spirit, we're united in our hearts and serving after him. So it's with integrity that we serve him. And then Joshua says, hey, "If it's disagreeable..." And that word disagreeable could also mean evil. "If it's evil in your sight, or if it's disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, then choose for yourselves today whom you will serve." Make your choice today who you'll serve. If you think it's disagreeable to follow the Lord, okay, then make that decision and go for it. "Whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” What's Joshua doing here? He's just making it really clear; you've been exposed to different gods over time. And a god, just a very simple way to think about a god here is that which is ultimate in someone's life. There can be bad things that become gods in our lives, there can be good things that become gods in our lives. Children can become gods to us, they become ultimate, and everything is centered around the child. A spouse can become ultimate to us. The pursuit of wealth can become ultimate to us. The problem of a spouse being ultimate, and the problem of a child being ultimate, is we are demanding from them something they are unable to give when they become God in our lives. They had been exposed to several different gods, and Joshua says if you want to follow them, follow them. But on this day, I'm putting a choice before you, he says, and today you need to choose, are you going to follow God, the God of Israel, or are you going to follow other gods? I love what Joshua does here. He's not just looking at everybody in the nation and saying, this is what you're supposed to do, he puts a stake in the ground, and he said, as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Joshua sets the pace, he says, I'm in, and he's been in, he's been faithful to God. He says for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

Ross Sawyers: [00:18:52] This weekend, my wife and I went shopping, and we thought towards the end of the day that it would not be as crowded, but that's not true, the two days after Thanksgiving. And then last night, we were at the counter where a lady was helping us, and I looked at her name tag and her name was on there, what her task and job was on there, and then it said pacesetter. And I had an idea of what that meant, but I asked her, I said pacesetter, I said, what does that mean? I usually don't see that at department stores. And she said, well, she said, it just means I hit a certain number of sales. I said, that's awesome, good for you. But she's setting the pace in that part of where she's working, and that's what Joshua is doing, he's a pacesetter, he's he's challenging them to choose today who they're going to serve. But he's not doing that in a vacuum, he's saying, I'm going to set the pace. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord, that's the choice we're making.

Ross Sawyers: [00:20:03] This morning at the gym, and I'm sure you get tired of hearing gym stories, but I just spend a lot of time there, so that's where I encounter a lot of different people. But this morning, I was there, and a guy who's in his 20s that's in our church, we were in the sauna at the same time. And so we were in there, and I haven't really heard his story yet. And so I thought, this is a great time to hear it, and so I said, hey, what's your spiritual story? And so he starts to describe it for me. And this is by permission. I asked him if it would be okay if I shared it. He said, you know, I grew up in this area, I grew up in a Baptist church in the area until I was 14, my dad and I mostly went. And then at 14 we moved to another church, and that's where I went in my youth group years. And he said I was really involved, he said, but you know, this probably more involved. In college, I went four years away to school, and when I was at school I didn't ever go to church, there was nothing really happening spiritually for me in those four years. I came back and I ended up rooming with a group of Baylor guys in an apartment. And he said, all of a sudden, I'm around these guys that are talking about God all the time, and they're doing Bible studies and they're praying. And one of the guys, whose dad goes to our church, he says he names him, and I said his last name. And he goes, yeah. I said, that's cool. But he said this particular guy, he said he just had a sense, he would really pay attention to me, he could tell when I was down and he'd take time to listen to me, and he would pray with me, and he'd talk about Scripture with me. And then another family in our church, the parents were doing a Bible study for some 20-somethings, and the daughter invited him to come to then be a part of that Bible study that's going on. And then another friend goes to 121, and he invited him to come to 121 with him, so he and his dad are coming here now. And then he's got an app called prayers.com or something like that, and he's listening to Tony Evans preaching, which I think Tony Evans is a fantastic preacher, and I love that he's listening to him. But he talked about that young man whose dad goes here who was talking about God all the time and helping him, the Scripture, and praying. And this is how he described it, he just kind of put his hand out like this, and he said, this guy, he said he is just devoted, I mean, he is just straight on for God. He is a pacesetter, in his early 20s, setting the pace, friends are changing left and right because of the courage to set the pace. He made his choice. He's set the pace. I'm going to serve the Lord, and moving ahead, my house is going to serve the Lord, that's what we're going to do. And I said to that young man this morning, and I said, how cool that God has put all these people in your life, and now you get to be that friend to somebody else. You see, God's called all of us when we make this choice to be the pacesetters of helping others to follow after God.

Ross Sawyers: [00:23:26] Now we see something similar like this happen in First Kings chapter 18. In First Kings 18, we're introduced to, we have a prophet named Elijah, and Elijah ends up, it's a great story, Elijah ends up in a contest with 450 prophets of Baal. So the very gods were talking about not to serve, Elijah the prophet ends up in a moment in time where it's him against 450. By the way, those are great odds when God is the one on the side of the one. And in verse 21 it says, "Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” But the people did not answer him a word." They weren't willing to make a choice, they're going to limp around, hesitating between two opinions. And so it becomes game on, the prophets do a particular thing, Elijah does a particular thing. God is the one who shows up for Elijah, it's really clear that God is the one who is God. And in verse 39 of the story, "All the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, “The LORD, He is God; the LORD, He is God.” It took this massive miracle and contest between 1 prophet and 450 false prophets for the people to say, yeah, the Lord, he is God. Wouldn't it be good today if it didn't require from us some kind of a miracle or something that we need God to do for us, but rather we can just review the story of God and say, wow, that God's worth it, my choice is made. I'm not hesitating. I'm not limping around. I'm not flinching. I'm in on this God when I just see who he is and what he's done.

Ross Sawyers: [00:25:35] And Joshua says, hey, "For me and my house, we will serve the Lord." The people respond and we have a cool dialog that happens now between the people and Joshua, "The people answered and said, “Far be it from us that we should forsake the LORD to serve other gods; 17for the LORD our God is He who brought us and our fathers up out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, and who did these great signs in our sight and preserved us through all the way in which we went and among all the peoples through whose midst we passed. 18“The LORD drove out from before us all the peoples, even the Amorites who lived in the land. We also will serve the LORD, for He is our God.” They didn't, at this point, they didn't need an Elijah to do this grand kind of miracle. Rather, they've heard the story, and they say, hey, we will serve the Lord, for He is God. They basically have said back to Joshua, what Joshua had just said to them about who God is.

Ross Sawyers: [00:26:45] Now Joshua gives an interesting response. Wouldn't any of us just be excited if we talked about who God is and our kids or our friends or somebody said, yeah, oh, I'm in on that, I'll serve that God? That's not what Joshua does, it's like he's about to do everything he can to talk them out of it. So he says in verse 19, which I think would have been discouraging, "He said to the people, “You will not be able to serve the LORD." He just told him, to make a choice, and then he says, you're not going to be able to do it because he's a holy God. He's absolutely pure and radiant, that is who he is, and you're not going to be able to do it. And he's a jealous God, some people think it's odd that God is a jealous God, but jealousy in a positive sense is a good thing. God is jealous for the people he loves and for whom he's chosen to cling to him and be with him. He's a holy God, Joshua says, and he's a jealous God. And then he says something a little startling, he said, "He will not forgive your transgression or your sins."

Ross Sawyers: [00:28:23] Now, for those of us who are familiar with the Bible, even just a little bit, isn't the fact that God forgives one of the things that we love about God? But he says, "He won't forgive your transgressions or your sins." What's Joshua doing here? Because in Exodus 34, verses 6 and 7, it's clear that God will forgive the sins of the generations he forgives. In Psalm 8, in the Psalms, it says that the Lord is good and he's ready to forgive. We know when we head to the cross, that the cross is where God goes so that our sins can be forgiven. So what's he doing? He's really amping up who God is to say, this is not a light decision you're making, this isn't a four-year player at Davidson, declaring for the NFL draft for fun kind of a decision. Joshua said we're talking about a holy God, a jealous God, who desires to cling to you and you to him. And you are not making a lightweight choice, there are consequences when you choose not to, so be careful in what you're choosing. Verse 20, “If you forsake the LORD and serve foreign gods, then He will turn, and do you harm and consume you after He has done good to you.” So God does good, but if you forsake him and serve other gods, then he'll turn and he'll do you harm. There are consequences all through Scripture that when we follow God, there are blessings and favor that follows, and when we disobey God there are curses and there are consequences to that, he's reiterating that to them.

Ross Sawyers: [00:30:33] Now, just for clarity, as one example, today I was listening to a podcast that someone sent me the other day, and it wasn't a Christian podcast, it was a guy talking about the corporate world, and the dilemma of Millennials in the corporate world and the way they were raised. They were always, this is how he said it, and again, this guy is not a Christian guy, he's just kind of laying out, this is the problem in corporations today. And it's interesting, his ultimate solution is parents of Millennials blew it, therefore, corporations are going to have to step in so that we can get this right. Millennials grew up being told they're special, being told they get a trophy for everything, no matter what place they came in, and then they've grown up with these. Now I listen to this, and I thought, I'm not a millennial, but I thought, man, I may be more of a millennial than I know because my mom told me I was special all the time, and that probably has created some adult problems for me, and I remember the last place trophies that I received. So that is not just a millennial, we're giving them a bad rap on that because some of us my age, you got the same trophies as I did, or maybe it's just my Fab Tex team in Grand Prairie that got those. But I'm listening, I mean, okay, I'm listening to this guy and then he talked about the phone. And what I just want you to see today is when he says, put away foreign gods, this is easily our God today. There can be good things, like the guy I talked about earlier, he's listening to Tony Evans, he's getting good stuff on there, we can communicate, and there are good things here. But a good thing can become an ultimate thing and we can become addicted to it, and this can become our God. And this is what the secular guy said, he said, if you can't go to lunch and if you have to have your phone there and every time you get a sense that somebody texted or called, you're addicted. Make no mistake about it, if you can't do that, you're addicted. If you can't sit at a stoplight without looking at your phone, you're addicted. He said, my gosh, could we just not sit for one minute and not do something? This is the secular guy calling out what's an addiction; and if we're addicted, that means it's become ultimate and it's our God. And when it becomes our God, we are harmed and destroyed by it and it's no longer good.

Ross Sawyers: [00:33:34] Several months ago, we were on vacation and ran into an Indian woman who was a retired psychiatrist or psychologist. And I asked her, I said, when is it a good time for a child or a teenager to get a phone? She said, never. She said that every study shows how destructive it is to our teenagers and our children. She didn't even flinch, she didn't have an exception. And this secular guy drew some of his own conclusions. Who's the God that we serve?

Ross Sawyers: [00:34:18] And the people said to Joshua, verse 21, "No, but we'll serve the Lord" a second time. Then Joshua said to the people, "You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen for yourselves the Lord to serve him." And by the way, I'm guilty of that, that's what I hated about that podcast. It wasn't a millennial thing to me, it was like, okay. I didn't enjoy that a bit. So I've been trying the last couple of days to see, can I actually sit at a stoplight. I've had some successes, and I've had some failures. You can pray for me, I'll pray for you, we'll do this together and ditch this as a God, instead, where it could be a help to us.

Ross Sawyers: [00:35:02] Joshua said, "You are witnesses against yourselves. They said, we're witnesses." Verse 23, “Now therefore, put away the foreign gods which are in your midst, and incline your hearts to the LORD, the God of Israel.” 24The people said to Joshua, “We will serve the LORD our God and we will obey His voice.” We'll do it, we're in, three times they tell him, we're going to serve the Lord and obey his voice, we're going to do it. But I love in verse 23, because there's a responsibility on our part to incline our hearts to God, to bend our hearts to him. That last song that we sang just before the message was called Abide. That word abide means to remain in. In John 15:5, Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing." Jesus says, abide in me, remain in me in the way that we incline our hearts to God is to immerse ourselves in the things of God. The young man I was speaking of what is he doing? He's going to Bible studies, and he's going to worship services, and he's listening to things that are that are good from God's Word, it's a good use of his phone.

Ross Sawyers: [00:36:18] And we surround ourselves with pacesetters so that our hearts are more bent towards the things of God than they are towards the things that are not. Why would we have to do that? The prophet Jeremiah said in chapter 17, verse 9 that the heart is deceitful, and it is desperately sick, it's more deceitful than all else. Our hearts are inclined to deceive us. We could even listen to this, this morning, and be absolutely confident that there's no other God, yeah, I'm in on God, and somehow miss for ourselves maybe there are some competing gods we need to put away. But that's how deceptive our hearts are. So the writer of Proverbs says in verse chapter 4, verse 23, "Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life." One way that we know that people are inclining their hearts towards God is the life that's coming out of them. Are they a refreshment and a joy to be around? Are they a life-giving person? So we incline our hearts to the Lord, abide in him, and we can help where that's hard and we're trying to learn. The question is if we make the choice today, then we can help with all the rest, but it has to be no longer a hesitation, but I'm in. On our website, we have on the home page, everyone lives for something. I firmly believe that, something got you out of bed this morning, what is it you live for? That's the answer to the question of whom you're serving. So my education, my job, my money, my family, my God, what got me up this morning? With a new baby, the baby probably got you up.

Ross Sawyers: [00:38:35] Two things to sum up the rest of Joshua 24, we're talking about things to consider on who we will serve. We consider and review the big story of God. We make the choice, it's clear what the choices are, and then we mark the moment. And if I could summarize verses 25 through 28, Joshua says, we're making a covenant, it's a renewal of the covenant that they have with God, and he marks it by writing it in the book of the law, and then he marks it by having a stone that will be a witness for them of what's just happened. So they mark the moment. This morning, all morning long we've had different families that have marked a moment, and what they're saying is we don't view this as how can we get the cutest kids up here, how can we just, like, look at families? We look at this as a family is making a decisive choice to say, as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. And we're marking the moment, this is a moment where parents can look back and say before a body of people, that is my church, I'm saying that together, with your help, me and my house, we're going to serve the Lord. I can't guarantee what my kids will do, ultimately, that's the choice they have to make. But what I can do is set the pace in the environment and lead in such a way that it's clear in our house we are lovers of God. We believe he's the way, the truth, and the life. He is worth giving our lives to, our allegiance to, he's worth serving, and we're going to give him more than just showing up an hour a week, our lives are his life. That's what he's after, and we're going to mark that moment today and say, that's what we're going to do. What are you going to do? When we come to faith, how do we mark that moment when we believe what Jesus Christ did for us? We mark that moment with baptism, which gives a physical way to mark the surrender and yielding that's come to Christ.

Ross Sawyers: [00:40:44] And I love what Joshua did, it wasn't just a stone that marked the moment he wrote it. You see, like Corey Seager, I agree our feelings can lie to us. The reason they lie to us sometimes is because they are tainted by sin as much as everything else in us is tainted and marred by sin, and so they will lie to us at times. It's good when we mark a moment by writing it down in a journal or something, so when my feelings are lying to me, I can look back and say, no, five years ago, in this moment in time, this is what God did, I believed it and I'm in regardless of how I feel today, mark the moment. Mark the moment.

Ross Sawyers: [00:41:32] Then the last thing he says in the last few verses is to live out our decision. Whatever choice you make, live it out. Let's not hesitate anymore, if we're in, we're in, live it out. The scripture says that Joshua lived to be 110 years old, and in the rest of his days, all of Israel served the Lord. They honored what they said, they said we're going to serve the Lord and they did while Joshua was still alive. What a gift for him that the people served the Lord for the rest of his days. We also see the death of Eliezer, a priest who'd been faithful his days. And then the bones of Joseph were buried in the land that he had asked for, he died in Egypt, and he asked that his bones would be taken into the Promised Land, and they were.

Ross Sawyers: [00:42:32] We basically see the end of an era of leaders who have been faithful to God, and it begs the question. What will the next generations do? And what will the next generations do today? We only get two chapters into the next book of the Bible, in Judges chapter 2, verses 9 and 10, and it says the next generation did not know the Lord, and they did evil in the sight of God, and they served the Baals. I think one conclusion I'm coming to is that every generation has to figure out their deal. But I tell you what I love, it's when the psalmist says in chapter 45 verse 17, "I will cause your name to be remembered in all the generations, and they will give thanks to you forever and more." That somehow, over the course of history, there are remnants and followers of Jesus in every generation that keep handing off the baton, and there are more and more young men like I described this morning and the next generation, that they're in. I hear story after story of 20-somethings, they're in, they made their choice. It's not easy anymore, it's not just like a cultural wahoo, I'm a Christian, you're either in or you're not.

Ross Sawyers: [00:44:19] How does this point us to Jesus? In God's big story, Jesus Christ comes to Earth, and he does what Joshua said the people could not do, that they would not be able to serve the Lord. But Jesus did it perfectly, and then he went to the cross to be a ransom for us, and God raised him from the dead on the third day. That's the story to review, the good news of God's grace that runs all through the scriptures and climaxes at Jesus Christ. And what happens when you and I actually believe what Jesus did, it is a moment in time, it is a decisive moment where we believe it. And what Jesus said, "If you're going to follow me, you deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow." It's not Jesus and some other stuff, it's Jesus, it's Jesus. What's your choice, and then mark it, and then live it, all your days never looking back. This is good news today when we no longer hesitate, but we're in.

Ross Sawyers: [00:45:54] Father, thank you for our time, and I am grateful always for the strength of your word and the power of your Spirit. And I thank you today, God, that while we're incapable of even making the right choices, that in your grace, through your Spirit, you enable us to do so. So, Father, I pray that we would have a roomful of people, online watchers, those who are in prison that are watching, I pray, God, that today would be a decisive day. Just renewal in our own yes to you if we're already in, or a first-time unqualified yes to you, God, or if we've drifted and forgotten, I pray today, God, you get us back on track. And then help us to help each other, to be pacesetters, to help people that are searching, looking, and so we thank you. Thank you for Joshua, thank you for his faithfulness, God, but more than that, thank you for your faithfulness to him and your faithfulness to the people. And that's encouraging today, God, when so often we don't do so well. But God, you're still faithful, and so we lean into that faithfulness into your sovereignty on this day.

Ross Sawyers: [00:47:19] What I'd like for us to do is just have a brief moment of quiet before the Lord to really, for you, before God, to consider what is your choice. To just be affirmed today and the one you've made, and then continue to seek him out on what it looks like to follow and live it out. Or if it's to repent today and confess where we've drifted off. Or it's, you know what, I've never been in on that, but today would be that day for you. And this would also be a day where you say, you know what, I'm probably not in today, but I think I may be interested in figuring out what that is and let us help you in that. So let these moments be a time just to ponder that question before God Himself. And then we want to sing a song that will help us seal it, the things that we've talked about on this day.



Recorded in Grapevine, Texas.
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121 Community Church
2701 Ira E Woods Ave.
Grapevine, Texas 76051
817.488.1213