Monthly Archives: January 2015

Finding Freedom Through Forgiveness


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How do you react when you are wronged?

Do you feel sorry for yourself? Perhaps you become angry? Maybe you don’t blow up but you become critical and judgmental of the one who offended you? Do you develop a complaining spirit? Perhaps your personality is to bottle it all up inside? Do you replay the offense over and over thereby ensuring that you develop a bitter spirit?

When you repeatedly drive a tractor down the same path during rainy season it won’t be long until the tyres have created deep ruts in the ground.  No matter how you might try to steer back to the top of the path your tyres will quickly slip back into the deep ruts.  Eventually you don’t need to hold the steering wheel on the tractor, the ruts are so deep that the tyres will stay in them with no help from you!  That is exactly what we do when we replay an offense over and over in our mind.  We fInd ourselves in the rut of bitterness!

King Louis XII of France said, “Nothing smells so sweet as the dead body of your enemy.”  And He was right! I have taken pleasure in that smell… and if you would be truthful, you have too!

My father experienced a mental breakdown when I was a young child.  At times my dad was psychotic, on at least three occasions he tried to commit suicide.  Etched deep into my childhood memory are times of physical and emotional abuse.  On at least one occasion I feared for my life at the hands of my father.  From the time I was eight until I was eighteen I grew increasingly angry and bitter towards my dad.  On the third suicide attempt, paramedics did an emergency tracheotomy and saved his life… I remember being angry that they had been able to save him.  I was angry, I was filled with bitterness toward my father for his sins against me.

When I was eighteen God mercifully worked in my life through the Scripture that I want to share with you today.  It was not something that happened in an instant of time, but God mercifully helped me understand truth, and through that truth I was able to forgive my Dad for his sins agains me.  I found freedom through forgiveness…  the same freedom that I pray you will find in your situation.

Bitterness is the poison you swallow hoping the other person dies.  Think about that for a moment!  The person you hope will die seemingly lives happily on oblivious to your anguish.  Your joy, mental focus and many other aspects of life are being consumed by the anger, bitterness and resentment over their sins against you.

Three NT Greek words are translated “Forgive” in our English Bible:

  1. To let go – to give up rights to what is owed as debt
  2. To set free – remove the chains, release
  3. To pardon – to withhold the penalty. To grant forgiveness.

To forgive is to give up the right of retaliation!

In our text Peter is asking a burning question (21).  According to the Pharisees, Jewish tradition required forgiveness for an offense 3 times but no more. Peter knew that Jesus always went beyond the Pharisees so he was being generous to suggest forgiveness 7 times.

Jesus gives the answer in verse 22. He said not seven times but seventy times seven.  A quick calculation bring the total to 490 times!  But Jesus is not suggesting that we keep count, this was his way of pointing Peter to the fact that forgiveness is unlimited!  God expects us to forgive every time, all the time.

Jesus then gives the disciples a lesson about forgiveness (23-35).  The whole point of this lesson is that “God eternally and unconditionally forgives those who repent of so immense a debt against him that it is unconscionable for believers to refuse to grant forgiveness to each other for sins that remain trivial in comparison.” [Cf. T. Deidun, “The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant (Mt. 18:23–35),” BTB 6 (1976): 219, on the change of heart demanded by the love of God made manifest in Jesus. Sourced from Logos Bible Software.]

The Kingdom of Heaven speaks only of those who are true citizens of the kingdom through saving faith in Jesus Christ. The King refers to God the Father and the servants are mankind.

There are four big ideas in this text that you must personalize if you are to find freedom through forgiveness:

THE FORGIVENESS OF GOD IS UNLIMITED (23-27)

Accounts will be settled with every man (23).

We all owe a debt we could never pay (24)

This servant embezzled what belonged to the King and consumed it on himself until nothing was left.

  • 1 Talent = 6,000 days wages
  • 10,000 Talents = 60,000,000 days wages = 164,000 years of work
  • At a rate of $50 per day = $3 Billion

We are that servant! We have a debt that we can never pay!

We have received knowledge of God

Ro 1: 18-21: For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

We have been given life.

Acts 17:25 Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things.

We have also been given the opportunity to give God what is due Him, but instead we squander God’s property in sin. You see the inescapable reality is that all sin is against God!

Col. 1:16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.

Rom. 11:36 For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.

Justice demands payment in full! (25)

Justice demands that we lose everything!  For this servant the law demanded that a thief make restitution and if he was unable to do so all of his property would be seized and sold to restore the debt.  If that still was not enough, the thief and his family could be sold as slaves, or cast into “debtors prison” until the debt was cleared.

Ex. 22:3 If the sun has risen on him, there shall be guilt for his bloodshed. He should make full restitution; if he has nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft.

Justice demands that we are punished for our sins throughout eternity in the Lake of Fire.

Rev. 20:11-15 Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. 14 Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15 And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.

Rev 21:8 But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

We have been forgiven a great debt. (26-27)

The servant when confronted with his crime repents and pleads with the king to be given a chance to make restitution (26).  He humbled himself before the kind, overwhelmed with the enormity of his wrongdoing.  The servant repents and acknowledges his need to repay.

Note the response of the King (27)!  He is moved with compassion and forgave the servant of all the debt!  This is a great truth for you and me!  There is no debt of sin so great that God cannot or will not forgive!

We see the same response when the prodigal son returns home the Father embraces and restores him to his place in the family! (Lk. 15:20)

The King released the servant.  He set him free from the penalty of his sin. He Freely forgave! No conditions and no hesitations, it was an act of pure grace!

You might be wondering, how can God do that?  How can a just God cancel the penalty of my sin and yours and set us free? The answer is that God can forgive because of the cross.

Rom. 6:10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.

2 Co. 6:10 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

God’s forgiveness coordinates with his justice.  god’s forgiveness is based upon the payment of the penalty of sin by a substitute – Jesus Christ!  God is free to forgive anyone and everyone who comes to Him through Christ!

FORGIVENESS IS A CHOICE (28-30)

This servant rushed from the presence of the king the recipient of overwhelming grace and forgiveness.  He seeks out his fellow servant who owed him 100 denarii.  A denarii was equal to 1 day’s wage.  So this fellow servant owed him the equivalent of 100 days wages.   At $50 per day this was equivalent to $5,000.  Now $5000 seems like a lot of money to me, and it would be a significant debt if I was owed that money by a friend; but it is nothing compared to $3 billion dollars!

Attitude of the servant (28-29)

Anger – “laid his hands on him”(28). Strong emotion of irritation or agitation that occurs when a need or expectation is not met.

Bitterness – “took him by the throat” (28). Feeling of anger & resentment caused by perceived unfairness in suffering or by adverse circumstances.

Resentment – “pay me what you owe” (28). Bitter indignation of having been treated unfairly.

Revenge – “threw him into prison” (30). Returning injury or insult.

Rom. 12:17-21 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Choice of the servant (29-30)

This fellow-servant begged the man, using the very same words he had used with the king (29). But  “he would not” listen to the plea.  This speaks of a continued and persistent refusal (30)!

Forgiveness is costly. To forgive someone it means you agree to live with the consequences of the other person’s sins. You pay the price of the evil you forgive.

By the way, you are going to live with those consequences regardless!  Your only choice is whether you will do so in the bitterness of un-forgiveness or in the freedom of forgiveness.

FORGIVENESS IS NOT AN ISSUE BETWEEN YOU AND THE OFFENDER BUT BETWEEN YOU AND GOD. (31-33)

The reaction of the other servants (31)

They were grieved! They went to the Master to complain about how their friend had responded to the one who owed him the debt. The lesson for us is this: We should go to the Master in prayer for those who are in bondage to the sin of un-forgiveness!

The reaction of the Master – He will call us to account for our unforgiving attitude (32-33)

Our forgiveness of one another is based on God’s forgiveness of us (33).  We are called to forgive the offender because of Christ’s forgiveness of us!

Col 3:13 Bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.

When a person hurts you, they continue to hurt you until you forgive. You don’t forgive someone for their sake, you do it for God’s sake, because He commands us to forgive.

Because God commands us to forgive, we can!  God’s commands are His enablings.  Remember Peter who saw Jesus walking on the water and requested to be allowed to get out of the boat and walk to Jesus.  Jesus commanded Peter, “Come.”  Peter stepped out and walked on the water!  I wouldn’t advise stepping out a boat and trying to walk on water on your next voyage, you will likely drown!  God’s commands enable us to obey them!  Because God commands us to forgive, when we “step out of the boat” we will walk on top of bitterness, anger, resentment and bitterness.

FORGIVENESS SETS US FREE (34)

From the torture

Forgiveness sets us free from the torture of the stress, hardship, pressures that come to the one who is holding to an unforgiving spirit.

Jas 2:13 For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

Forgiveness also sets us free from the schemes of Satan.

2 Cor. 2:10-11 Now whom you forgive anything, I also forgive. For if indeed I have forgiven anything, I have forgiven that one for your sakes in the presence of Christ, 11 lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.

Un-forgiveness is a device of Satanic control. If he can controls our mind, he can influence our actions.

Un-forgiveness is the root of bitterness.  When bitterness has fully matured it brings forth destruction and death!

Heb 12:15 looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled;

Eph. 4:31-32 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.

Bitterness is extremely harmful to you – it is a poison. Remember what we said earlier,Bitterness is the poison you swallow while hoping the other person dies.  The bitterness in my Dad’s life over being abandoned by his mother as a little boy eventually led to his own breakdown.

Bitterness also destroys what is good and beautiful around you.  Bitterness always affects others! My Dad lost his relationship with his own family family, he lost his ministry, his peace, and his joy.

From the debt.

Forgiveness is a debt we owe our master!

Forgiveness is not forgetting, it is a deliberate choice not to bring up the past.

Heb. 10:17 And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.

Psa. 103:12 As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.

How do you forgive from the heart? (35)

  1. Acknowledge the hurt and the hate.
  2. Decide that you will bear the burdens of their offenses by not using the information against them.
  3. Don’t wait to forgive until you feel like forgiving – you will never get there. Feelings take time to heal after the choice to forgive is made and Satan has lost his place (Eph 4:26-27) Freedom is gained, not a feeling.

Forgiveness is dealing with your pain and leaving the other person to God. Pray:  “Lord, I forgive (name) for (specify).

Forgiveness sets me FREE!

Download a pdf copy of Freedom Through Forgiveness

Why We Sing


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We want to be intentional in all that we do at Kitwe Church.  So today I wanted to share a helpful article that answers the question Why We Sing when we meet for Sunday Bible Study.

Jonathan Leehman writes the following:

At my church’s Sunday gathering, the preacher and everyone leading the service sits on the stage facing the congregation.

In the past, I’ve been tempted to wonder if they’re really worshipping, or just looking around. Doesn’t someone who is really worshipping close his eyes, put up his hands, and wear an expression of rapture?

At least that’s what I wondered until it was me sitting on stage, looking at the congregation. When the singing begins, I’m beholding God’s people praise God. And it’s unbelievable!

WHAT I BEHOLD

Some eyes are closed and some are open. Some hands are raised and some are not. But the posture of their bodies is not the point.

We’re singing the sixteenth century words of “A Mighty Fortress,” and I notice a woman who was recently assaulted now sing with all her might of a “bulwark never failing.”

We’re singing the eighteenth century words of “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessings” and I’m heartened by the older saint who has persevered in the faith for decades, still singing, “prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love; here’s my heart, O, take and seal it; seal it for thy courts above.”

We’re singing the nineteenth century words of “It Is Well,” and I look out and see the middle-aged brother struggling with discouragement over his fight against sinful anger now raising his voice to shout, “My sin—oh, the bliss of this glorious thought: my sin, not in part, but the whole is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more. Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!”

We’re singing the twenty-first century words of “In Christ Alone,” and I see the talented young mother who is tempted to regret what she’s given up to have children now exult in her new ambition: “In Christ alone my hope is found, he is my light, my strength, my song.”

As I sit, look out, and behold, my own praises to God are strengthened by the stories and songs of others. My faith is invigorated and enlarged by his work in them.

THE ECHOING WORD

Churches sing because their new hearts can’t help but echo the Word which has given them life. Whether those songs were written in the sixteenth century or today, they should echo Scripture. If there is any place where God’s Word should literally reverberate, it should reverberate in the church’s songs. Remember, Scripture alone gives life.

Therefore, a church’s songs should contain nothing more than the words, paraphrases, or ideas of Scripture.

And churches sing together because it helps us to see that our hearts’ praises, confessions, and resolutions are shared. We’re not alone. Singing in the church, I believe, is about listening as much as it’s about singing. So Paul commands us to “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord” (Eph. 5:19, niv). If I’m to speak to others in song, I’m to listen to others as well. In fact, I do sometimes stop singing just to listen and thank God for the voices around me!

“These brothers and sisters share my new heart, my new identity, my Lord and Savior, my comfort and support, my hope and ambition, my glory and joy. I’m with them, they’re with me, and we’re with him.”

WHY WE SING

Believers sing in churches because Christ has commanded us to sing (Col. 3:16, Eph. 5:19). And we’re commanded to sing, I heard minister of music Bob Kauflin observe, because God means for creatures created in his image to do as he does (e.g. Zeph. 3:17; Heb. 2:12). Yet let me unpack what I’ve said so far by articulating three reasons for why I expect God would command his people to speak to one another not just in prose, but in poetry and melody.

We Sing To Own and Affirm the Word

Singing is how the congregation owns and affirms the Word for itself. In the Bible, singing is one God-ordained way for the members of a congregation to respond to God’s revelation. It’s how they raise their hand and say, “Yes, I believe and affirm these truths with my whole person.” For instance, the Psalmist tells God’s people to proclaim God’s Word to others: “Sing to the Lord, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day” (Ps. 96:2). Singing of his salvation means we’ve owned it as our message.

We Sing to Engage Our Emotions with God’s Word

Singing is how the congregation particularly engages its emotions and affections with God’s Word. When we sing, it’s hard to remain emotionally disengaged. Just as the sense of smell can evoke strong associations and memories, so the sound of music both evokes and provokes the heart’s joys, griefs, longings, hopes, and sorrows. Jonathan Edwards proposed that God gave us music “wholly to excite and express religious affections.” The Psalmist seems to embody this idea when he writes, “My heart overflows with a pleasing theme” (Ps. 45:1).

Singing, I’d say, is the medium by which God’s people grab hold of his Word and align their emotions and affections to God’s.

It’s not surprising therefore that Paul would command churches to sing the psalms, and that the Psalter would be referred to as the church’s hymnbook. John Calvin called the Psalms “An Anatomy of all the Parts of the Soul” since it offers readers words which they can place into their own mouths for properly expressing the whole range of human emotions. In the preface to his commentary on the Psalms, Calvin writes, “for there is not an emotion of which any one can be conscious that is not here represented as in a mirror. Or rather, the Holy Spirit has here drawn to the life all the griefs, sorrows, fears, doubts, hopes, cares, perplexities, in short, all the distracting emotions with which the minds of men are wont to be agitated.” How can Christians express grief in godly fashion? Or sorrow, fear, and doubt? By echoing the Psalms, like Jesus did again and again.

Yet even if churches don’t take their lyrics directly from the Psalter, they should consider the Psalm’s balance of confession, lamentation, exaltation, and thanksgiving, and seek to mimic something similar in their own hymnody. Do we know how to lament in our churches through music? Or confess?

In seminary classrooms, budding preachers are sometimes warned, “A congregation will only be as careful with the Word as you are in the pulpit.” The same is true, I’m convinced, of our singing in church, and our ability to emotionally encounter God throughout the week. A congregation which learns to sing in church with robust confession and contrite praise better knows how to sing to God with their hearts at home, whether they do it to melody or not.

We Sing To Demonstrate and Build Unity

Singing is one way of demonstrating and building corporate unity. Once again, it’s not difficult to imagine how Israel used the Psalms to demonstrate and build the unity of their hearts with one another. Some psalms make this explicit:

[Call] Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!

[Response 1] Let Israel say, “His steadfast love endures forever.”

[Response 2] Let the house of Aaron say, “His steadfast love endures forever.”

[Response 3] Let those who fear the Lord say, “His steadfast love endures forever.” (Psalm 118:1-4; see also 124:1; 129:1; 136)

The psalmist makes a declaration, and then he asks three groups of people to echo him: the nation, the priests, and then all who fear God (including any foreigners and Gentiles in their midst?). The words “his steadfast love endures forever” is the source of unity, but the poetry and—perhaps—music encourages the people’s hearts to embrace, own, and rejoice in this glorious truth.

The context of Paul’s command to sing is worth noticing as well: “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God” (Colossians 3:15-16). Notice the train of thought: We’re to let peace rule, since we’re called to one body. We’re to be thankful. And we can do all this by singing Christ’s Word together. Again, the Word is the source of unity; but the music gives expression to that unity.

No doubt, this point can be combined with the last one. Singing God’s Word is how a congregation tunes its heart together across the whole range of biblically-driven affections.

What should be clear in all three reasons for why we sing is that singing in church should be about the church singing—congregational singing. Perhaps choirs and soloists can be carefully used to call the church to respond, as in the Psalm above or as an exercise in “speaking to one another in song.” And musical performances outside the gathered church are wonderful. But God has given music to the gathered church so that the people together can own, affirm, rejoice in, and unite around God’s Word. Far better than the sweet harmonies of a few trained singers is the rough and hale sound of pardoned criminals, delighting with one voice in their Savior.

The most beautiful instrument in any Christian service is the sound of the congregation singing.

This article was copied from 9Marks http://9marks.org/article/why-we-sing/

This article, which recently appeared at Creator Magazine, was excerpted from the book Reverberation and is used by permission of Moody Publishing.

A Choice in 2015: Who Will You Serve?


A New Year's Resolution.001
Many people make resolutions at the start of a new year.  In the past I have made some myself. some of them I carried through with, some I did not.

Perhaps you have made some resolutions for the coming year:

  • Resolve to start going to church
  • Resolve to read Bible through in the year
  • Resolve to spend more time with your family
  • Resolve to stop drinking, lose weight, or start exercising.

A resolution is a decision we choose to make, no one forces it upon us. Decisions of this nature often are made at critical points in our lives.  Many times at the beginning of a new year or perhaps when a child is born or when we have faced some great tragedy or trial.

Today I challenge you in the presence of the God of Heaven to make a choice.  Mark it down, each one of us will make respond, and that response will mark the choice that you make.

I am glad for the Bible. It gives me a chance to see how other men chose – and the results:

Adam’s choice cost him Eden; Esau’s, his birthright; Achan’s, his life. Lot’s decision cost him his home and his herds; Absolom’s, his father’s throne. The rich young ruler’s choice cost him the companionship of Christ. Judas’ choice cost him his Apostleship; Demas, his discipleship. Pilate, Agrippa and Felix chose wrong and missed heaven.

On the other hand, Moses chose the affliction of his people rather than the riches of Egypt. Joseph chose the prison house of Potiphar rather than the bed of his mistress. Daniel chose the Lion’s den rather than disobedience to God. The three Hebrew children chose the fiery furnace rather than Emperor worship. Christ made the marvelous choice when he set his face toward Jerusalem, at the Garden of Gethsemene and in the Judgment Hall. (Copied, Source Unknown)

Mothers and fathers:  What would your answer be if God should say to you, “Ask what I shall make of these young people?” Would your answer prove you know how to choose the things that matter most?

And this brings us to our text in the Book of Joshua chapter 24, verses 1-25. In the historical narrative of Joshua two truths stand out:

  1. God is a God of war! He continually wars against sin. Though gracious, He is also just. Though Savior to some (Rahab) He is judge to others (Jericho). In this war God uses both those who are loyal to Him and he uses the evil forces to carry out justice. (Gen 15:16 – “the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.”)
  2. Faith is required to live justly before God. What we believe and what we value must be God this affects the direction of our life.

Before I bring before you the decision I am calling you to make, let us pause and look back:

REMEMBER GOD’S FAITHFULNESS (1-13)

Joshua runs the leaders of Israel through a synopsis of the last 900+ years of their history.

Remember where God took you FROM (1-4)

Their ancestors on the “other side of the river” worshipped idols. The ancient Mesopotamian peoples worshiped the moon god; Sin.  Mass graves have been uncovered from this period. One site contained 7 men, 68 women and animals that are traced to ancient worship rituals.

We all have a history!  You may not be able to trace your history back multiple generations, but that doesn’t change the fact that you have a history.  We are descendants of those who did not serve the LORD GOD!

My great-grandfather died at at the age of 55 in a road accident in northern Maine, USA.  What I know of my great-grandfather was that he was a hard-working, hard-drinking man non-religious man.  That is my heritage.  My ancestors did not know God, they did not believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior.

Joshua reminds the leaders of Israel that God sought out Abraham from the land “across the river” and led him out. God revealed Himself to Abraham, and Abraham became the “father of the faithful.”

My great-grandfather was killed when my grandfather was two years old.  As a young man, someone shared Christ with my Granddad and he put his faith in Jesus Christ.  My grandfather’s decision of faith resulted in:

  • Children – 2 pastors, 2 missionaries.
  • Grand-children – 1 pastor, 3 full time Christian service, 3 missionaries.
  • Great grandchildren – 15 on mission field.

Remember when God brought you OUT (5-7)

Joshua reminded them that God brought them out from Egypt.  Often Egypt in Scripture is a type of the world.  We were all slaves to Pharaoh (Satan). In anguish we cried out, God heard our cry and sent a Deliverer, Jesus Christ!

The Passover was key to their deliverance (Ex 12). In the Passover the innocent lamb died as a substitute for the firstborn in the family. This pointed to the coming day when the lamb of God would come and shed His blood for the sins of the people of the world. Just as the blood of the passover lamb had to be applied, so Christ sacrifice is not good for YOU unless the blood has been applied to your life! “When I see the blood, I will pass over you” (Ex. 12:13). When God sees the blood of Christ over your life passes over that person because their sins have already been punished in Jesus Christ.  “There is therefore no condemnation to those who are in Christ” covered in His blood.

Remember where God has brought you TO (8-13)

After being delivered from Egypt they passed through the wilderness and came to the Jordan River. We all pass through the wilderness of spiritual maturity with the goal of complete surrender to God. Many enemies will try to stop our progress.  If we are to experience victory it requires conflict.

God provides deliverance, notice what he says, “I gave them into your hand” (8), “I destroyed them” (8), “I delivered you” (10).  It was Jesus Christ who defeated our enemies at the cross!

God brings us out of the world, through the path of spiritual growth into the promised land of the victorious christian life (8a,13).

REQUIREMENT GOD DEMANDS (14-21)

The Charge (14)

The first thirteen verses culminate with the words, “NOW THEREFORE.”  Whenever we see “therefore” we should pause to ask, “What is it there-fore?”  Joshua is telling these leaders that because of God’s work throughout out their history.  He called them when their ancestors across the river were still idol worshippers.  He sustained them and brought them out of Egypt and through the wilderness.  Now they are living in they did not build, houses they did not construct and they were eating from vineyards they did not plant.  All of this should cause them to:

“Fear the Lord!”

Fear means to stand in awe of something, to revere.  This awe should motivate us to proper actions!

Our action toward God – “Serve the Lord.”

This means that we are to serve Him as His subjects. We are to acknowledge Him as our Lord! How do we serve Him?

In Sincerity

Sincerely is to walk openly and honestly, hiding nothing. The word ‘sincere’ comes from two words meaning “without wax.” It was a common practice for a potter to hide tiny defects in their work by melting hot wax into the crack. After painting the buyer could not tell there was a defect. After the pot had been purchased and when heat was applied the crack appeared rendering the vessel useless for its intended purpose.  Potters would stamp their work as being sincere, meaning there were no hidden cracks.

We are to not serve hypocritically!  It is not enough to say you are the genuine article. It is not enough to look like the genuine article. It is that when the heat is applied you are exposed as being genuine.

Without blemish.  This word in Hebrew is translated 44x as ‘without blemish’.

In Truth

We are to walk in the right way.  This word is translated “faithful” in Neh. 7:2, “He was a faithful man.”  This word is translated “right” in Gen 24:48, “led me in the right way.”

We are to walk in the right way without hypocrisy!

Our action toward “other gods.” –

We must put them away!  An idol is anything we trust in more than we trust God. It is anything we put ahead of God.  That could be ourselves, our business, sports, money, business, or even our family.

Ezk 14:3 Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their heart, and put the stumbling block of their iniquity before their face: should I be enquired of at all by them?

The Challenge (15a)

“Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve!”

They were to chose service to the demon inspired idols of your ancestors (15b) or the Caananite gods of the people in whose land they now dwelt.

One of the most known Canaanite gods was Baal.  It was believed that during dry season Baal went to the underworld. He would return and sleep with his mistress Asthoroth.  So that rains would return to the land and to encourage Baal’s return, worshippers would sacrifice their firstborn infant sons alive by fire.  Priests and priestesses  would engage worshippers in public sexual relations.

Today we worship the god of materialism, the god of power and the god of fame. The challenge of Joshua’s day is the same challenge issued to our generation – to you and to me! Choose whom you will serve with your money, with your abilities, and with your time.

Joshua made it very clear that his choice was to serve God the Lord! (15d).

The Choice (15d-21)

This was a personal choice!  The decision of one man (15d) “As for me and my house” impacted his life and the lives of those he was responsible for!

This was also a corporate choice!  The decision of the congregation (16-18,21) was, we to will serve the Lord God!

At this point you would think that Joshua would warmly affirm their decision and welcome them to the fraternity! Instead he issues to them a sever warning. (19,20)

He warns them of God’s character (19).

God is Holy

I Pt. 1:15-17 15* But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; 16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.

God is Jealous

Num. 25:11 * Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, hath turned my wrath away from the children of Israel, while he was zealous for my sake among them, that I consumed not the children of Israel in my jealousy.

God is unforgiving. In other words, He cannot, will not let the sin of idolatry go unpunished.  God will chasten those who say that they are serving the Lord yet worship idols!  (20).  Joshua warns that God will do them harm – this word is also translated hurt (Num. 11:10); afflicted (Num 11:11, Ruth 1:21, Jer. 31:28); to break in pieces (Job 34:24, Ps. 2:9); and broken (Jer. 11:16).

God will consume them.  This is likened to a hot fire that consumes everything in its path. “Our God is a consuming fire!” (See: Ex. 32:10-12 – God wanted to consume Israel for the sin of the golden calf.)

RESOLUTION WE MUST MAKE (22-25)

This resolution was publicly affirmed (22).

This resolution required that they put priorities in action (23-24).

Put away the foreign gods (23a) – don’t just take about serving God, actually put away the idols that exist in their homes and in their lives.

Bow your heart to the Lord (23b) “incline your heart.”  God desires worship from the heart! “These honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.”  Worship always results in obedience! (24)  Find out what God wants you to do and do it!

So there you have it – the choice that you must make at the beginning of this new year: “Choose YOU this day whom you will serve!”

Serving the Lord God begins by allowing Jesus Christ to apply the blood to your life. You must be saved!

I Jn. 1:7 and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin.

“As for me and my house WE WILL SERVE THE LORD!”