Repeated Renewal

Understanding the Critical Need To Renew Our Faith In God

Ross Sawyers
Oct 8, 2023    48m
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We can easily drift from obedience to God’s commands for a variety of reasons, so we need to make it a priority to renew our faith in God. This message, taught out of Joshua chapter 8, gives us insight on what steps we can take to have the repeated renewal in God and His promises. Video recorded at Grapevine, Texas.

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Ross Sawyers: [00:00:01] It's good to think about the goodness of God this morning and I'm grateful that we can go to him in prayer as we continue our time. No doubt when you awakened yesterday, you saw the same news that I did with Israel and what's happening in that part of the world. So if we could, I'd like for us to pray for them and then we'll jump into God's word this morning.

Ross Sawyers: [00:00:25] Father, we praise you today that you are a good and gracious God. And we're thankful this morning that we can rest safely in your goodness. And Father, I thank you today that you're in pursuit of us with your goodness. So thank you, Father, for that grace and the love that extends towards us in that way. And Father, we pray for those who are Christian brothers and sisters today in Israel, and God, I pray that you'd encourage their hearts. I pray, Father, that Christians would step into the heart of spots to serve and to love, to meet needs in this moment. And then, God, I pray for those who had family or friends killed or injured or kidnapped yesterday, I pray, God, that you'll bring comfort in a way that only you can, and God that you would meet each person in their grief in really personal ways. And Father, I pray and thank you that we have confidence that you channel the hearts of kings and that your purposes cannot be thwarted. We understand that we live in a broken and fallen world, and these things happen all the time. And God, I pray that you would work in and through it and draw people to yourself. I pray salvation would spring up in the most evil of perpetrators and in the most good of persons, every person in need of your salvation. And Father, I pray that you would guide in a way that your purposes are accomplished and that your name is glorified in ways that we don't understand, in ways that we know that only you can do, and so we trust you today and pray that you would guide each of us in the ways you'd have us to actively battle and engage in the heavenly places in prayer. And then any way you'd have us meet needs, I pray that we'll walk in obedience to that. I pray these things in Jesus' name. Amen.

Ross Sawyers: [00:02:39] Well, this weekend we had, and actually we are still having our men's retreat. And I recognize we live in a place that allows us to do something different than we might be able to do in other parts of the country or the world, and we're grateful for what so many people have, and we've dispersed our men in about 15ish locations of ranches and lake houses and have just had a phenomenal weekend of renewal, and for some, it'll be the beginning for them. And the study that was written for the weekend was excellent on the life of King David, looking at different phases of his life as a beloved son, and knowing who we are today in him. And then warriors, we're called to be warriors, kings to rule and have responsibilities, and then a season of being a sage and the fruitfulness of a life that's been lived. You cannot replace the long arm of experience of following after Christ, and we have so much to offer until our very last breath as we walk with God. So we've been encouraged this weekend, so if you'll continue to pray as it crosses your mind this morning as our men wrap it up where they are and start to travel back from multiple places. And as we think about what's happened in this men's retreat, we've done this every year, I can't remember if we started the first year as a church or the second year, but we have done a retreat for our men every year for years now, and it's a time to renew and it's repeated, we do it every year. And what I'd like to think about today for all of us is that idea of repeated renewal and how crucial that is to the health of our own lives and to the health of those who are around us.

Ross Sawyers: [00:04:48] If you'll turn in your Bibles to Joshua Chapter 8, we're going to linger in verses 30 through 35 in our time in these minutes. We've been working through Joshua through each chapter, it's been big chunks, so I'm grateful to be able to slow down for a moment and just be in a few verses that we can spend our time in.

Ross Sawyers: [00:05:10] And just to give a quick recap, there are a number of ways we could recap, and catch you up if you're newer today or if you've missed some of it. But God has promised his people that they would have a land and they have now, in the Book of Joshua, they have crossed into that land. Joshua is the one who succeeded Moses as the leader that would bring them into that land, they're in it. And just by way of recap, they've arrived in the land, and you would think they would be so fired up and so ready to go and take the cities and the land that God's given them, but before they take the first city, God says pause, there are some things to do. And they had not been circumcised, which was a sign of their covenant with God. The Passover was celebrated, and after this pause, God has given specific instructions to Joshua, and then they take the city of Jericho.

Ross Sawyers: [00:06:07] They come out of Jericho, and it seems without really asking how God wanted them to take the next city, and the way I pronounce it is Ai, you can call it Ai or however, you want to call it, it's the letters Ai. And they take that city, they go to that city, and they get beaten, and it was discouraging for them because they had been on this promise that God had given them this land, and now all of a sudden, they lose this battle. And in the loss of that battle, what they discover is that there was sin in the camp. And we know from Scripture that when someone sins, it has serious consequences not just for that person, but for all those who are in the community with that person. Sin affects everyone. And so there was a pause again, and this time there was a pause to take care of sin in the camp.

Ross Sawyers: [00:06:59] And sometimes it's good for us to pause when there's serious sin, for confession and repentance and bearing the weight of what that's done, but also to consider the grace and mercy of God in it, and then we can move forward. There's a pause, and then they take Ai in chapter 8, and at the end of chapter 8, we find another pause. And I think this is a good rhythm for us to think about in our own lives as followers of Jesus, or if that's something you're considering today of what it would mean to follow Jesus. But once we are in a relationship with him, I believe our lives are constant pauses of repeated renewal. So what would we do today, so you don't always have to be a retreat, but what are the things that would be important for us to continually renew our relationship with God? And what Joshua is doing here is taking a pause with the people and helping them remember who they are in the covenant relationship that they have with the God who's giving them the land.

Ross Sawyers: [00:08:15] In chapter 8, there are four things that I see that we can consider for repeated renewal. The first would be this, in verses 30 and 31, to be an ongoing sacrifice. What do I mean by that, verse 30, "Then Joshua built an altar to the LORD, the God of Israel, in Mount Ebal." Now I love following Joshua as a leader, he does so much. We see one thing after another that he's doing as the leader of the people, he's with them, he's in the mix with them, and he is in a mix of a variety of things with them, so Joshua builds an altar to the Lord. I think it's important that we really know the object of who the altar is for. When Joshua pauses here, he's building an altar, and it's to the Lord, he's the object. It's not for himself, it's not let's just pause and build something for myself and what I just did. And that's oftentimes what happens, is we have our own preferences, our own ways, our own things we like, and we pause, and we build altars to ourselves. But Joshua recognizes God is the one who is the center and he's building an altar to the Lord, and he does this in Mount Ebal.

Ross Sawyers: [00:09:43] We've looked at a variety of maps, and I just want to hone in on this part. So we're on the western side of the Jordan River, and Mount Ebal is over here to the north, and Mount Gerizim is to the south, the blessings and the curses will make sense in a few minutes. In the middle of Gerizim and Ebal, these two mountains is the city of Shechem. That's important because when we go back to Genesis chapter 12, God calls out Abram and says to him, I want you to leave the land you're in and leave your family and your relatives, and then you're going to go to a place where I'm going to make you a nation, and it would be Israel that would be the nation he will make out of Abram. And I'm going to give you a land, it's the land in Joshua we see that he's the people are receiving and you're going to be a blessing, and I'm going to bless you. Abram obeys and leaves, and he gets to Shechem in Genesis 12, verses 5 through 7, and it's in Shechem that he then stops and builds an altar to the Lord and pauses. This is a significant place in the promised land, a prominent place. And it's here that they'll be renewing that covenant that's been established with Abram centuries before.

Ross Sawyers: [00:11:24] Now, I think places matter, Shechem matters. Where we are this weekend, where our different men are this weekend, those places matter. They're outdoors, and they're in God's creation, it's a stunning weekend in a number of ways, in God's creative way. But there are also those places that are significant places where we're focusing on God as our object. When we gather here, this is a meaningful place to gather, while the building is not the church, we're the church, when we scatter from here, it's still a meaningful place to renew each week. There may be a spot in your home, there might be a closet, a room, or a chair you lean into when you pray, but there are places maybe in your home that are meaningful places, where you meet God in a way that is different than other ways that you meet him. He's always with us, but places are prominent and they're prominent here.

Ross Sawyers: [00:12:31] There's a sacrifice that's been made in verse 31, "Just as Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded the sons of Israel, as it is written in the book of the law of Moses, an altar of uncut stones on which no man had wielded an iron tool; and they offered burnt offerings on it to the LORD, and sacrificed peace offerings." Moses had left instructions for Joshua. Now, we talk so often about when we read God's Word and God says something to us, it's not intended to end on us, it's intended to move through us and to pass it on. God meets Moses, and we see this specifically laid out in Deuteronomy chapters 27 and 28, we spent time on this in our summer Bible study a few months ago. But God has given a specific instruction to Moses, Moses has passed it on to Joshua, and now Joshua is passing it on to the people and he's doing it in detail. He's doing exactly what he was commanded just as it was written.

Ross Sawyers: [00:13:35] Remember in chapter 1, verses 8 and 9 of Joshua, that that's the theme for the whole book, and part of what it says is that Joshua was to be careful to do all that God had told him to do, to be meticulous in being obedient in it. And if you read Deuteronomy 27 and 28, you'll see again and again how meticulous and careful Joshua is being to do exactly what it was that God gave Moses and Moses gave Joshua. Now, part of what the altar was made of was uncut stone. In Exodus chapter 20, verse 25, God says, "If you make an altar of stone for Me, you shall not build it of cut stones, for if you wield your tool on it, you will profane it." God is holy, the altar is being made to him, and they are doing it in a way that reflects the holiness and purity of God.

Ross Sawyers: [00:14:39] There are two offerings that will happen on this altar, and we joke about this all the time, right? If you're doing it through the Bible in a year plan, and you read Genesis and that can be pretty exciting, you get to Exodus and it's exciting, and then it gets a little detailed, and kind of you hang in there with it. You get to Leviticus and it's all these offerings, and oftentimes we phase out at that point. The good news is, is the burnt offering and the peace offering are described in Leviticus chapter 1, verse 3, and in chapter 3, so usually we get to this part before we start to phase out.

Ross Sawyers: [00:15:15] But the burnt offering was an offering to God, and it was done in such a way that an animal that was a male and had no defect would be sacrificed on that altar and it would be a burnt offering to the Lord. And before it was sacrificed, the hand would be placed on that animal as a symbol of the transfer of their sin onto that animal, and then the blood sacrifice would be made to atone for the sin of the person. Placed on the altar, burned, and totally consumed, sins atoned for in that offering. The peace offering is the same idea, but only partially consumed on the altar, and it actually was an offering that was a restored relationship with God. Now the order matters here, sin is taken care of first, and now the relationship is restored with God and there's peace and there can be rejoicing again. It's the same way our own lives work. Our sin is taken care of, and then there's a restored relationship with God, and then we can have peace with God. This is recorded in Deuteronomy 27, verses 5 through 7. But we know that an animal sacrifice and placing our hand in that animal being slaughtered on our behalf for our sin, we know deep down that's not going to do it, this was only a shadow of what was to come.

Ross Sawyers: [00:16:55] In Hebrews Chapter 9, verse 26, we get a picture among many throughout the Scriptures of what Jesus did. And in the back half of verse 26, "But now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself." We see multiple times throughout Scripture that Jesus Christ becomes the once and for all sacrifice. Now, I mentioned here that the idea is if we're going to have repeated renewal is to be an ongoing sacrifice. Well, Jesus Christ is that once and for all sacrifice, it's not ongoing for him. And the way that we enter into a relationship with God, is through faith in what Jesus Christ himself did, and in Christ alone. We try so many ways to receive peace, but the only genuine peace that will come will be when we receive what Jesus Christ did as that once and for all sacrifice for our sin on our behalf. When we receive it, our sin has been taken care of, and there's peace and a restored relationship with God.

Ross Sawyers: [00:18:17] But what does it mean to be an ongoing sacrifice? In the Old Testament, they were having to do sacrifices again and again and again. What does that mean for us today, what are we supposed to do? Romans Chapter 12, verses 1 and 2, says, "Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship." Once we receive the sacrifice of what Jesus did for us, we become living sacrifices. What does that mean? It's clear throughout Scripture that when Christ died on the cross, that we also died with him, that's why Paul could write in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me." Paul wasn't on that cross with Jesu, yet he said, I've been crucified with Christ. So we've been laid on that altar and crucified and killed with Christ, when we believe what he did for us that's what's happened, all of our sin is on there with him. He bore our sin on the cross, and we're dead, but we're called to present our bodies as living sacrifices. So the way I live in an ongoing way now is as a living sacrifice.

Ross Sawyers: [00:20:09] John Owen, the Puritan writer, said this. He said, "Kill you or kill sin or it'll kill you." So one way that we can walk as living sacrifices is, every day, to ask God to kill the sin that remains and wants to rise up in me today so that it doesn't kill me. I don't know about you, but when I sin, it kills me. So as a living sacrifice, I'm actually a walking dead man. I'm not dead in sin anymore because Christ has taken care of that, but I'm dead to sin. And when I'm dead to sin, then the life of Christ continues to shape and rise up within me and out of me. See the problem with the living sacrifice, it's on the altar, but it keeps trying to get up. And what we really want is for Christ rising up in us and living through us. So we continually abide and yield to him, asking him to crucify and kill the remaining sin so that we can walk as that living sacrifice.

Ross Sawyers: [00:21:36] In Second Corinthians 2:14, "But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place." The burnt offerings and the peace offerings were a soothing aroma to God. For every person who knows Jesus and is walking as a living sacrifice today, we are a soothing aroma to God and to those around us. But the scripture says, we are an aroma from life to life for those who know Jesus, but we are an aroma of death to those who are hostile to him. When people smell something, they smell different things. In Romans 12:2 we're also told that the way that we walk as this living sacrifice is to not be conformed to this world, to be transformed by the renewing of our mind. We're daily renewing our minds, repeated renewal of our minds, so we can live the way God has called us to live, to be an ongoing sacrifice.

Ross Sawyers: [00:22:45] If we pause for a moment, is this how you understand your relationship with God? Well, the same thing that we need to renew, and Joshua takes some time to actually write the word in verse 32. So we know Jesus, the sacrifice has been made, we receive the sacrifice, and now we're walking as living sacrifices. Verse 32:8 says, "He wrote there on the stones a copy of the law of Moses, which he had written, in the presence of the sons of Israel." So he does this altar first, and now he writes on the Stones, a copy of the Law of Moses. So Moses is attributed as being the writer of the first five books of the Bible, we don't know when it says here, did he write all five books of the Bible on the Stones? Did he write the Ten Commandments, which is a nice summary of the law that God gave? Is it possible we could look later and say that the two greatest commands Jesus said are to love God and love our neighbor, which actually sum up the Ten Commandments and which sum up all of the law? But whatever it was that he wrote on the stones, a copy of the law of Moses, which had been written and had been passed on to him. He had it, and now he wrote it in the presence of the Sons of Israel. And I would just say today that when God's Word is written in prominent places and we can see it, there is a strength and encouragement in it. This instruction came in Deuteronomy 27, verses 2 through 4, and verse 8, and then I would say today that based on the written word of God, depending on how Israel obeyed or disobeyed that word, would determine their experience in the land that God had promised them. They were placed in a fruitful land, but it's not just about the land.

Ross Sawyers: [00:24:50] For many today, you've been given great abundance, and you can be absolutely miserable in the middle of that abundance. Because it's not about the abundance, it is simply about obedience or disobedience to God in what he's given. However they respond to God, and we know throughout the Scriptures that their experience in this land was often miserable because of their disobedience to God. We can get caught in such a flurry of busyness and chasing that we think we’ve got all the good things rolling along, and we're just getting emptier and emptier and more exhausted by the day. So Moses passes the law, and Joshua writes it.

Ross Sawyers: [00:25:53] Terry Luper is a Houston billionaire, and a few years ago, I was introduced to him and listened to him, and I picked up his book called Sacred Pace. And Terry Luper, in his book, describes his story. He was a Christian man, but he was chasing after millions, and his goal was in his 30s to make his first million. He was well on pace for that, but in the meantime, he'd sort of wiped out his family while he was doing it. And when he was about to get signed, what he needed to sign and receive his first million for the work that he had done, he had a nervous breakdown and for the next two years, he spent time in counseling and chasing after God and just took a time out, took a pause, and God totally renewed him, and totally changed the way he thought. And he started another company in Houston in his later 30s, he would become a billionaire through that company, and here are a couple of things he did differently. One, he or those who worked for him never worked more than 40 hours a week, and he never made a big decision without being neutral before God first. And by neutral, what he meant was, I made sure that I had no emotion left in the decision. I made sure that it wasn't something I just kind of thought I wanted, I thought it would be advantageous, and so this must be God's will. I made sure I was neutral before him before moving on any decisions so I could hear him clearly. He had an abundance in one round of it, and never paused for renewal. God totally changed him, and now his renewal is often before God, neutral before him before he moved. Now, I don't tell you that story to suggest that all of us will be billionaires if we do that, but I believe he has it pretty well nailed.

Ross Sawyers: [00:27:58] So we pause, and we write God's Word. And I would just encourage you today, that there are ways that we can write his word that are helpful. Some of us, if we get off our digital, and if we just wrote out God's Word, sometimes it's good just to write scripture out in a journal, not just your feelings or emotions or experiences, just write God's word, just like Joshua did here. There's something about pen to paper, and putting things in writing that are encouraging, and will strengthen our own heart and soul. We can send it in text to people, we can put it in a variety of places, but this is a way we can renew it just by writing out God's word. But in Jeremiah 31:33, we're told that there would be a day that it wouldn't just be about a written something, it will be written on our hearts. And for every person that knows Jesus, he is the word, and he's been written in our hearts today.

Ross Sawyers: [00:28:55] And it's not just the written word, it's the written word hidden in our hearts. Psalm 119:11 says, "Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You." Could I just cheer us on today to memorize God's Word, and sometimes we think about that, and we think, okay, you know what? I've got the big idea, I've got the concept of the scripture, it's hard for me to memorize so I don't think I'll probably do that. But could we think about God's word and memorize it? Not just so we won't sin against God, but that we would have God's word to be able to be a strength and a help for someone else. I can meet with people all day long often, and I can give ideas and counsel and advice and it's fine. But the reality is the biggest strength I have to offer somebody is to give them God's word for what their situation is, and so often I'll watch eyes light up because God's word is what is powerful. So if I can have God's Word hidden for multiple situations and circumstances, and I can put that word in and on and over people, there is a strength in God's Word that's different than here's three steps for you. So could we be cheered on just to hide God's word in a way that we can actually be a help and to pass it on and a strength to others?

Ross Sawyers: [00:30:19] There are a couple more things that I think are helpful to renew, and it's to get others involved. Verse 33, "All Israel with their elders and officers and their judges were standing on both sides of the ark before the Levitical priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD, the stranger as well as the native." So we've got Israel, we've got the leaders of Israel, we've got the ark, which is symbolic of God's presence, the very center of what they're doing. And then it says, "Half of them stood in front of Mount Gerizim." I showed you that map earlier. So half of the tribes, and this is described in Deuteronomy 27, six tribes, there are twelve tribes of Israel, and six of the tribes are in front of Gerizim, and that's the one where the blessings will be read. And then half of them are in front of Mount Ebal, that's where the curses will be read, "Just as Moses the servant of the LORD had given command at first to bless the people of Israel." It shows us two mountains, so half the people are in front of Ebal, and half the people in front of Gerizim.

Ross Sawyers: [00:31:21] But notice who's invited here, everybody, including the stranger, the non-Israelite. See, they were to remember what it was like to be slaves in a land that wasn't their land and to treat the stranger in their own land as they would have wished they were treated. But everybody's invited in to hear God's word. So it's not just about, I receive Jesus, it's not just about writing God's word and obeying God's Word, it's about how do I get others involved in God's Word? See, God is a God of the nations, he always designed Israel to be a light for the nations and often they did not do that. So out of Israel will come one, Jesus Christ, who will be the light to the nations? And for every one of us who are living sacrifices, he's called us to the nations. And Jesus said, "Go and make disciples of all the nations." See, he's inviting in the stranger, and he's inviting in every person to experience, and hear, and have the renewal of the Word of God.

Ross Sawyers: [00:32:38] Why would I want to get somebody involved in the Word of God? Well, in Psalm 19 it says, "The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. 8The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. 9The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the LORD are true; they are righteous altogether. 10They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb. 11Moreover, by them Your servant is warned; In keeping them there is great reward." God's word to be treasured and to invite people in.

Ross Sawyers: [00:33:29] At the men's retreat this weekend, where I stayed, there was a man who was a part of our group I hadn't met before, and I figured out finally how he ended up as part of the group. So one of the guys that was hosting, he met this guy a few weeks ago and some kind of a work setting, and he invited him to their Tuesday morning Bible study. He just invited him to get into the word with them, and then this last Tuesday, he said, you ought to come to the men's retreat with me this weekend, and so he checked with his wife, and it was all good to go. He invited him into the Word. We want to get as many people as we can just involved in God's word and see what happens, there's strength and power by the spirit of God through the word of God. And there's renewal going on here, that they understand, you are the people of God, you're a treasured possession of God. And what it means to be the people of God, then is to walk in obedience to the law of God, to the Word of God.

Ross Sawyers: [00:34:29] And that would take me to the last piece here in verses 34 and 35, and that repeated kind of renewal comes as we read and obey the word. Now, I would just say today that we don't always love the idea of obedience. We don't love it when somebody tells us what to do. We don't love it when people lay things out and this is how it rolls. We prefer to go at things our own way, with our own ideas, and that is deep within all of us, is that desire and that is a part of our sin nature. But when you walked in this morning, if you came in the main doors, if you ever look up, there are four beams. And the very first beam is our first core value as a church, it's the authority of scripture. Everything comes under God's word, our feelings, they can sometimes be right, by the way, they can also be off. Whichever way they go, we put them under God's Word and evaluate them that way.

Ross Sawyers: [00:35:50] There's a cultural narrative, and sometimes our culture gets it right, but a good portion of the time today is hostile to God. So we look at what the cultural narrative says, and we don't just start adhering to it. That's why Paul warns in Romans 12:2, "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." And so we put the cultural ideas underneath the authority of God's word, everything comes under God's word, and really our life depends on whether we'll live in freedom and joy and peace or not. So in verse 34, "Then afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessing and the curse, according to all that is written in the book of the law."

Ross Sawyers: [00:36:58] This week if you have an opportunity, I'd encourage you to read Deuteronomy 27 and 28, and there's just a list of curses and a list of blessings. And they would be shouted out, it was like an amphitheater between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim, and the curses would be shouted out and they would say, Amen to those. And when we say amen, by the way, what that means is I agree. So they would shout out a curse and they would say, Amen, they agreed. And then they'd shout out blessings on the Gerizim side, and they'd say, Amen, we agree. And by the way, this is where environments matter, Mount Ebal was a barren mountain, and Gerizim was a fruitful mountain. Even as they would hear the curses shouted out, they would be looking at a mountain that was unattractive and barren. And when they would hear the blessings, they would be looking at Gerizim that would be fruitful. So they would have a picture in their mind of even what's being said.

Ross Sawyers: [00:38:09] It would be Psalm 1:2-3, "But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law, he meditates day and night. 3He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers. And these blessings and curses will be read back and forth. And what we know in Deuteronomy 26 verses 16 through 19, is that they will be obedient to this, “This day the LORD your God commands you to do these statutes and rules. You shall therefore be careful to do them with all your heart and with all your soul. You have declared today that the LORD is your God, and that you will walk in his ways, and keep his statutes and his commandments and his rules and will obey his voice. And the LORD has declared today that you are a people for his treasured possession, a beloved son, a beloved daughter, as he has promised you, and that you are to keep all his commandments, and then he'll set you high above all the nations as a consecrated people." You're my treasured possession, you're my people. And this is what it means to be my people, is to carefully and meticulously obey my word.

Ross Sawyers: [00:39:32] And you say, well, that's Old Testament, that's law, we're about grace, so how does this fit? Well, Jesus said in John 14:21, "He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me." Okay, we say this often, but can I just put it in context right here? People will tell us all the time they believe in God, and they believe in Jesus, but the words need to be matched up by the action. If you believe in God and that Jesus Christ Himself is God, and He's the way, the truth, and the life and the way to salvation, then you will keep his commandments, and that's the way you love him. "He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me." It's the one who keeps commandments, that's who loves Jesus. It's not just, oh yeah, I believe in Jesus and I'm about my thing. No, do you love Jesus, and do you love his commands, do you love his ways? "And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.” And then Jesus says in verse 23, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word."

Ross Sawyers: [00:41:01] Do you wonder if someone loves Jesus? We make this so complicated. We get into a conversation, and I wonder if that person is a Christian, not a Christian, are they? Well, does he love Jesus, does she love his word, and loves it in a way that he or she keeps it? And then Jesus said in verse 24, "He who does not love Me does not keep My words." If you love him, you keep his words; if you don't love him, you don't keep his words. So the inverse is true, if I'm not keeping his words, that means I don't love him. If I'm keeping his words, I'll love him. And I'm keeping his words in First John 5, and it's not burdensome to me. One of the ways that we know we love God is we love his word, we keep his word, and it's not a burden to keep his word. And then in First John 2 verse 3 just says, "This is how you know Him, if you keep His commandments." Do you want to know if you know God? Do you love his word, and they're not a burden to you, and you keep his commands? And you say, Well, I do, but I seem to fail quite a bit. Yeah, me too. It's only by the Holy Spirit of God who comes into our lives once we receive Jesus that we're actually now enabled to have the power to keep the word, prior to it, we are incapable of keeping it. We're frustrated by it because we look at it and say, I thought I was supposed to do this or that, and I can't do it. But now I have the Holy Spirit of God who gives me the power to love and keep Jesus's words. So it's possible through the Holy Spirit.

Ross Sawyers: [00:43:02] In Hebrews 2:1, it says to pay close attention. To where you're going because we drift really easily. And it only takes one step of a drift this way, to keep taking steps that way, and all of a sudden, I'm way away from where I started. First John 2:6, "The one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked." I want to keep my steps in line with his steps, and I'll be able to do that by the power of the Holy Spirit, and constant renewal of my heart and mind in the Word of God, and for God continually to put in me a love for it and a love to obey it. Do you love to obey God today? Do you love His word? If not, ask him, God, cause me to hunger and thirst for you, and to love you, and to love your word.

Ross Sawyers: [00:44:18] This week, a middle school teacher sent me a picture, and you won't be able to read the Post-it notes, but I wanted to get a visual of what's happening there. If you can read those, that would be pretty impressive, actually. But that is a Bible mirror in a public middle school in our area, and two middle school girls wanted to post scripture and prayers, and it's just taken off through the school and they keep doing this. So on each of those Post-it notes, in the public middle school, is scripture. They've got it written and posted, they love it, and they're writing prayers and they're praying. That's one way among many of being a living sacrifice, writing God's Word, getting others involved, reading God's Word, and obeying God's Word. Constant renewal, again and again, because we drift, but God in his grace draws us back in again and again. And our ultimate motivation, in Second Corinthians 5, "For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; 15and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf." Our motivation today for obedience and renewal is the love of Christ and what he's done.

Ross Sawyers: [00:46:00] Father, thank you for the strength of your word this morning in Joshua and throughout the Scripture. Father, I pray today that we would be a people who are not afraid to keep coming back for repeated renewal. God, that we would pause in confession of our own sin and repentance. And Father, that we would pause after victories and pause before we go into what you have for us next into a battle. But God, whatever it is, I pray you'll help us to be renewed daily, to die daily, as Paul said. And Father, I pray that we would be a people that are constantly obedient to Jesus, to deny ourselves, to take up our cross, and to follow you. I pray today, God, that those who don't know Jesus in the way we've spoken of him today, that there'd be something in them that desires that and will step into it by your grace and your calling. And, Father, I pray all of us today who know Jesus, that we'd be renewed in recognizing today that you have called us to be living sacrifices, to present our bodies to you and to be dead to sin and allow Christ to rise up and shape and mold and live through us today. I pray, Father, we would love your word, we'd write it, read it, treasure it, and obey it, that we would get as many people involved in under it and in it, and then just watch by the power of your Spirit as you cause person after person to come alive in you. So, Jesus, thank you today for the ultimate motivation of what you've done for us, and I pray that would ignite our hearts today to desire to continue to renew that relationship that you've so graciously given.

Ross Sawyers: [00:47:55] Can we, just for a moment, be silent before the Lord and consider, do you love God? Do you love Jesus in such a way that you love His word and you love keeping it, it's not a burden to you? Or if it is, it's a good time to ask God and say, hey, it is this is a whip to me, would you be willing to just say, God, will you change that desire in me to where I love you so much that I love your word? I pray, God, we not be deceived like the demons in James 2, we're told the demons, they believe God is one, and they shudder. We have too many people today saying they believe in God, and they don't love you. I pray, Father, that people would shudder today, they would fear you, and love you, and repent before you. So whatever this space needs to be, and then we want to sing a song of praise to reflect on what God's done 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