“A Blessed Home”
Text: Joshua 24:14-24
We hear a lot of emphasis on endangered species and I love wildlife as much as anyone. This past week, a federal judge denied a proposed settlement agreement between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and 10 conservation groups that would have lifted endangered species protections for wolves in Montana and Idaho. Regrettably, politics often get involved but I’m glad our government has tried to protect endangered species such as the bald eagle and gray wolf. For those who may be worried, I don’t hold the same view for snail darters. Due to such efforts, the bald eagle population has been able to recover and be removed from the list and the gray wolf is well on its way. But the most endangered species in our nation is the home and our government is doing very little to save it. We know that a house is not a home. Yet, I’m not sure if we really do know that because sometimes we put more effort into our houses than our homes. We invest more time and energy into our lawns and houses than into the homes God intends them to be. This morning I want us to spend the next few minutes talking about “A Blessed Home” – designed as God meant it to be. Please open your Bibles to Joshua 24 and study with me for just a few minutes. Then be like the Bereans in Acts 17:11 and search your Bibles daily to make sure I’m preaching the truth of what God says.
The children of Israel have taken possession of the Promised Land and distribution of the land has been made among the tribes. Joshua has gathered all the tribes at Shechem and delivers an address from God to the leaders. I want us to take five main points from our reading this morning convinced that God will bless our homes if we follow His advice. Point #1: “Now therefore, fear the Lord.” If we want to have blessed homes, we must fear the Lord. This doesn’t mean we need to be afraid of God but rather we must stand in awe of Him and revere Him. Some of us have been studying the book of Proverbs on Wednesday evenings and the phrase “the fear of the Lord” appears there 14 of the 26 times it is found in the OT. Let me quickly cite some examples and you can infer how they apply to a blessed home. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7). “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil” (Proverbs 8:13). The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 9:10). “The fear of the Lord prolongs days” (Proverbs 10:27). “The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life” (Proverbs 14:27). I believe Hannah in 1 Samuel 1 was a woman and wife who feared the Lord. As a result, if the Lord would bless her with a son, she was willing to give him to the Lord all the days of his life. We need mothers who are willing to do that today with their sons and daughters. We need mothers and fathers who are praying for their sons to become godly husbands and fathers, gospel preachers, song leaders, Bible teachers, deacons and elders. We need mothers and fathers praying for their daughters to be godly wives and mothers, to marry godly men who are gospel preachers, song leaders and Bible teachers and will some day become deacons and elders. Perhaps we’ve put more stress on our children getting an education to make money rather than one to better serve God. We read in Ecclesiastes 12:13 what the wisest man concluded: Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man’s all. We’ve mentioned some of the things involved in fearing the Lord including sacrificing some of our desires for our children. Now turn with me to Genesis 22 where we find the account of God requiring Abraham to sacrifice His only begotten son Isaac. You know the story how Abraham obeyed God and was ready to slay him with his knife. But notice verse 12 as the Angel of the Lord speaks to Abraham: “Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.” Not only must we fear the Lord, we must also serve Him in sincerity. This and the third point both require serving the Lord. They are perfect follow-ons to fearing the Lord. Turn with me to Deuteronomy 10:12-13 and I think we’ll find the same is true today – “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments of the Lord and His statutes which I command you today for your good?” There are at least two ways of serving God demanded of us. One is in regular worship of our Lord. Psalm 100 expresses this well:
Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands!
Serve the Lord with gladness;
Come before His presence with singing.
Know that the Lord, He is God;
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
And into His courts with praise.
Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.
For the Lord is good;
His mercy is everlasting,
And His truth endures to all generations.
If we want to have blessed homes, regular worship must be a part of our lives – not forsaking the assembly as we are commanded in Hebrews 10:25. We must also serve the Lord as a way of living. Joshua served the Lord for 110 years and yet he was not called a servant of the Lord until he died (Joshua 24:29). Like Joshua, we must be faithful until death if we want to receive the crown of life (Revelation 2:10). So how do we serve the Lord in sincerity? While the Hebrew word ta-mimV has many shades of meaning, the sense here is “pertaining to that which is genuine” or “sincerity”. First of all, God knows our hearts and knows if we’re serving Him sincerely. But our children can also see through hypocrisy and know whether we’re serving God in sincerity or not. You may be fooling some of the people some of the time but you’re not fooling God or your children. Now therefore, fear the Lord, serve Him in sincerity and in truth.” We know from John 4:24 that “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” We understand that acceptable worship must be from the heart with the proper attitude and according to what is written in God’s word – in truth. The same is true for our daily service to Him – it must be in truth – according to His commandments for mankind. Since Joshua is delivering the Lord’s message in our text, let’s go back and see what God told Joshua as he took over after Moses died. Turn with me to Joshua 1 and let’s read verses 7 and 8: Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. I believe we understand what all this means when we’re talking about Joshua but how about applying it to ourselves and our homes? God’s word has always been integral to the lives of his people. We need to take a lesson from Deuteronomy 6:4-9 – “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” This doesn’t mean we have to wear phylacteries or nail a mezuzah to the doorpost of our house. For those of you unfamiliar with these terms, let me explain them briefly. Phylacteries are mentioned by Jesus in Matthew 23:5. They were leather cubes containing pieces of parchment with scriptures written on them. One is worn on the forehead and the other on the left arm during morning prayers. Mezuzahs are little oblong boxes attached to the doorposts of homes containing parchment with the words of Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and 11:13-21 written on them as well as the word Shaddai for God. I wish we had time to read Deuteronomy 11:13-21 for it tells how God promises to bless his people if they keep His commandments and teach them to their children. How well are we doing this or are we depending on their Sunday school teachers? Oh, that we would all long to say the words of 3 John 4 – I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. However, we must walk in it if we expect our children and grandchildren to do likewise. Fourthly, we must put away the gods which stand between us and our Father in heaven. Most of us are quick to say we are not idolatrous but what are those things that get between us and serving God? Is it sports? Is it homework? Is it work? Is it a hobby such as hunting or fishing? When God becomes the center of our homes, then we will have blessed homes. As an example, turn with me to 2 Samuel 6:11-12 and we’ll read together. To set the stage, after David tried to move the ark the wrong way to Jerusalem and Uzzah was struck dead by God for touching the ark, the ark was placed in the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite. As you know, God dwelt between the cherubim that were part of the mercy seat that sat atop the ark of the covenant. The ark of the Lord remained in the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite three months. And the Lord blessed Obed-Edom and all his household. Now it was told King David, saying, “The Lord has blessed the house of Obed-Edom and all that belongs to him, because of the ark of God.” So David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-Edom to the City of David with gladness. Can you imagine how Obed-Edom felt to have God dwelling in his house for three months? Especially as he realized how God was blessing him and his household. Folks, we don’t have an ark we can bring into our house with God on it. However, most of us have another box or several of them that we tend to worship. But it’s more of a place where the devil dwells. Now, I’m not preaching against TV’s unless they’re destroying your home. If you’re allowing them to bring garbage into your homes and pollute your minds as well as your children’s, God will not bless your home. Folks, we must make our homes where God would choose to dwell. Finally, we need to stand up and say with Joshua, “But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” Men, this is our responsibility – to lead our families. Sometimes, ladies must take that stand. But, if we want blessed homes – if we want God to bless our homes like He did Obed-Edom, we must take a stand like Joshua to serve the LORD – to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33). It is when we do this in our homes that God will bless us with what we need in this life.
Blessed homes begin with us as individuals – whether we’re spouses, parents or children. Are you, first of all, the child of God He wants you to be? If you’ve never been adopted into the family of God, why not put on Christ in baptism this morning? If you believe that Jesus is the Son of God and you’re willing to repent of your past sins, we will ask you to confess Christ as your Lord and Savior and then baptize you for the remission of your sins. God will add you to his church as well as His kingdom and call you His child. Or, if you’ve wandered away, you can come home like the prodigal son where you’ll be welcomed and forgiven by your heavenly Father. You can start building a blessed home today but it starts with you as we stand and sing.
(Walter Hill; Sunday A.M.; 4/17/2011)