Stephen Caswell © 2004
Anzac Day Holiday
Last Sunday we celebrated Anzac Day. On this day we have special services to honor the men who fought and died for king and country. By doing this we keep alive their heroic deeds. In fact the words Lest We Forget are repeated every year so that we won't forget. We need to remember them.
Joshua called the children of Israel together to remind them of their spiritual heritage. He was about to die and before he did, Joshua wanted to remind the people where they had come from. God had saved them from bondage. He wanted to remind them of God’s faithfulness and their responsibility. It’s good to look back every now and again and remind ourselves of the blessings we have received from God. The Christian Heritage Services we are sharing in this afternoon help us to do just that. When Joshua called the people to Shechem he did 3 things. He Reminded Them Of Their Calling, He Required Them To Choose, He Renewed Their Commitment To God.
1. He Reminded Them Of Their Calling
Firstly, Joshua gave them a brief history lesson highlighting God’s faithfulness in v 1-13.
· God called Abraham out of idolatry to the land of Canaan. God saved him. Abraham obeyed and became the friend of God. He served the Lord.
· God blessed Abraham and gave him many descendants. Just one family became a great nation in the land of Egypt.
· God freed His people from slavery in Egypt. He led them out with a mighty arm after He had plagued the land of Egypt.
· God gave the Children of Israel the land of Canaan. They possessed houses they didn’t build. They inherited pastures, flocks, vineyards and orchards they had not labored for. God had been very good to Israel.
We too can look back and see the Lord’s blessings on us.
· Many of us are here today because God called our forefathers. They responded to the Gospel turning from their sin to follow the Lord Jesus Christ.
· I am a minister today because of the faith of my parents and my grandparents. My grandmother prayed for my salvation. Maybe your experience is similar to this.
· We have freedom many nations long for. We are not slaves. Neither are we oppressed by our government. Many Christians only dream about meeting openly like this. May we never take for granted our religious freedom; we may lose it.
· We are blessed by the service of our Christian forefathers. They planted the Churches we worship in. They preached Christ faithfully and we are here because God used them to reach us. God has given us a Christian heritage. We are very fortunate
· God has richly blessed us; He has met all of our needs. God has given us homes and families, food and clothing. He has blessed us materially.
2. He Required Them To Choose
Secondly, Joshua challenged the people of Israel to choose their god in verses 14-21.
· They could serve the gods that Abraham and his father served on the other side of the river before they were called out of Ur. The Chaldaens served the moon god.
· They could serve the gods that the Amorites served in the land of Canaan. The Amorites served Baal and Ashtoreth. They were the gods of fertility and prosperity. Their worship involved child sacrifice, violence and sexual immorality.
· Or they could serve the Lord who delivered them out of bondage in Egypt and gave them this good land. God drove out the Canaanites so Israel could possess the land. The Lord blessed their families, crops and herds while they served Him.
As for Joshua’s family they would serve the Lord. Joshua made it clear, Israel must choose. They couldn’t serve the Lord and other gods. God wouldn’t tolerate rivals. If Israel chose to serve idols God would punish them. This happened time and again.
Man’s Power Of Choice
God has no policeman who go around and grab us by the neck and say you must read your Bible, or you must go to Church, or you must give to Missions. When God created man, He made man superior to all other creatures. He gave man the power and privilege of CHOICE. Up to now the Lord respects that privilege. He will not force us. With that privilege of Choice, goes the terrible responsibility of abiding by the results or consequences of our choices. Our choice determines our eternal destiny, heaven or hell!
We too must make a choice who we will serve.
· We can serve the god’s of sport and entertainment. There are so many sporting hero’s and music stars that people worship today. Look how many people go to sport instead of Church each Sunday. How many are devoted to the Australian Idol instead of God?
· We can serve the god’s of pleasure. So many pursue drugs, alcohol and the wild parties associated with this. How many lives are ruined from these things today?
· We can serve the god’s of prosperity and possessions. The ever increasing lust for more. Better cars, bigger houses and more things to fill them. How much is enough?
· In fact, there are many gods we can worship today. A god is anything that takes first place in our life. Any thing that comes before the Lord our God is an idol, a false god.
· Or we can serve the Lord who has blessed us so much. He’s the only one who can save us. He’s the only one who can give us a meaningful life. Only the Lord can provide security for our families. He meets all our needs. Serving God brings blessing and meaning to our life. How could we forget Him? Who have you chosen to serve?
3. He Renewed Their Commitment
Thirdly, after Israel chose to serve the Lord, Joshua renewed their commitment to God in verses 22-27. This would remind them in the years to come of their promise to God.
· He told them to put away their idols and serve the Lord only.
· He told them to serve him in sincerity and truth.
· He wrote their decision down as a permanent reminder.
· He set up a memorial stone as a public witness to the next generation.
· Tragically the Children of Israel didn’t teach their children about the Lord.
Sometimes we need to renew our commitment to Christ also.
· Sometimes we let idols come into our homes, ie ungodly music, books or videos. TV programs that promote sin rather than righteousness. We must get rid of them.
· Sometimes our goals and values drop. We must renew them in line with God’s Word.
· Sometimes we become so busy with life that we can’t serve the Lord. We must reset the boundaries for our families so that we don’t miss the most important things in life. We may need to rededicate our lives to God and serve Him wholeheartedly.
· We must not neglect to teach our children about the Lord. We need to teach them God’s Word and example this before them.
· Are we serving the next generation? Are we serving our children?
· If we don’t make these choices we won’t pass a Christian heritage on to the next generation.
· Who will you serve? Who will your family serve? The Lord God or the gods of this world?