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Sunday November 9, 2008

Rev. Robert L. Clark II
Joshua 24

24:15 Now if you are unwilling to serve the LORD,
choose this day whom you will serve, whether the
gods your ancestors served in the region beyond
the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land
you are living; but as for me and my household, we
will serve the LORD."
24:16 Then the people answered, "Far be it from us
that we should forsake the LORD to serve other
24:17 for it is the LORD our God who brought us
and our ancestors up from the land of Egypt, out of
the house of slavery, and who did those great signs
in our sight. He protected us along all the way that
we went, and among all the peoples through whom
we passed;
24:18 and the LORD drove out before us all the
peoples, the Amorites who lived in the land.
Therefore we also will serve the LORD, for he is our

God heard the cries of the people when they were

slaves in Egypt. God heard their cries and God

responded. God sent Moses to lead the people out

of Egypt into freedom. God parted the waters and

the people crossed the boundary between slavery

and freedom.

God heard the cries of the people when they were

slaves in Egypt and God responded. God hears our

cries today and God responds. God hears when we

cry out under the burden of too much debt at too

high interest; the burden of doctor bills we cannot

pay and prescriptions we cannot fill, God hears and

God will deliver.

In the wilderness God heard the cry of the people

rising in response to the fearful rumbling of their

empty bellies. God heard and sent manna from

heaven to liberate them from the fear of scarcity,

the fear of hunger.
God heard the cries of the people then and God

hears our cries today. God hears us when we cry

out under the weight of exorbitant gas prices, of

rising electric bills, and escalating food costs. God

hears and God will deliver.

God heard the cry of the people when they were

greeted with hostility by the peoples of the

wilderness. God heard the cries of the people and

God preserved and protected them from the

dangerous powers who sought to destroy them.

Today God hears our cries when planes bring down

majestic towers, when terrorist plot to destroy us,

when enemies threaten nuclear annihilation. God

hears and God will deliver.

God heard the cry of the people, who weary from

long wandering longed for nothing more than to lay

their heads down on the same bed for two

consecutive nights in a place called home. God

heard their cries and God parted the waters of the

Jordan so that Joshua might lead the people across.

God parted the waters of the Jordan and Joshua led

the people into the Promised Land, a land where

the people plucked grapes from vineyards they did

not plant and slept in cities they did not build.

Today God hears the cry rising from the throats of

the 11.9 million undocumented persons who have

crossed the Rio Grande in search of a promised

land. God hears the cry rising like a single voice

from the lips of the 1.6 million homeless persons

living on the streets of US cities. God hears the cry
rising from the 15 million refugees seeking safety

in a dangerous world. God hears and God will


God is faithful. God’s promises will never be

broken. From always until forever God is here.

God is listening and God is acting. God is acting to

bring about reconciliation with all creation. God is

acting for the sake of your and my salvation. God

is acting to liberate the captives, to lift the burden

from the oppressed, to free you and I from all forms

of bondage to bend the bars of each one’s personal

prison, to break the chains, to part the waters, and

to demolish all barriers to human liberation. To

put it as simply as possible, God is good! (all the

time!) and all the time! (God is good!)

God led the people into the Promised Land and God

delivered control of that land into their hands. Now

it is the peoples turn. Joshua calls them all

together and after retelling all the wonderful things

God has done for them, he presents them with a

choice, either serve the Lord or choose this day

whom you will serve.

Today we are being offered the same option either

serve the Lord or decide whom we will serve.

There are a whole lot of options, the god of money,

the god of popularity, the god of patriotism, the

god of family, the god of vanity, the god of self-

indulgence, the god of greed, the god of success,

the god of…I could go on all day but I think you get

the point. There are an almost infinite number of
things we could choose to value more than God.

The problem is God will not play second fiddle.

God wants to be number one in your heart, ahead

of everything and everyone else. Therefore,

choose this day whom you will serve.

But before doing so, before you say anything, think

about what it means to say that you will serve the

Lord. Think about the cost. Serving God is not for

free. Serving God is very, very costly. The price for

serving God is your life. Listen carefully this is

what Jesus said: Unless a grain of wheat is buried

in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any

more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it

sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In

the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as

it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless

in your love, you'll have it forever, real and eternal.

If any of you wants to serve me, then follow me.

Then you'll be where I am, ready to serve at a

moment's notice. The Father will honor and reward

anyone who serves me.”

Now a many of us are willing to say that we want

to serve God. We say we want to obey his

ordinances, his rules. We may even say we are

willing to die for him just like he died for us. We

may be willing to say we will give up everything for

his sake but I wonder, when push comes to shove,

how many of us are willing to put our money where
our mouths are. I wonder how many of us are

willing to put service to God ahead of our own

needs and desires.

When we join the church we make a promise to

serve God in several very specific ways. We

promise to serve God by supporting the ministries

of the Church through our prayers, our presence,

our gifts, and our service. A hard look at how each

of us is doing in each of these areas will provide a

good measure of our commitment to serving God.

Jesus says we are to pray without ceasing. Are we

praying without ceasing?

Hebrews 10:24-25 says something like, “Let's see

how inventive we can be in encouraging love and

helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as

some do…” (MSG Hebrews 10:24-25) When we

promise to support the ministry of the church

through our presence we are promising not to

avoid worshipping together. We are promising to

show up. Showing up in church for worship is a

good start but it is only a start. Serving God by

showing up means much more than regular

worship attendance.

When we promise to serve God by supporting the

Church with our gifts, we are promising to provide

financial support for the ministry of the church.

The Minimum Biblical standard for giving is the

tithe. The Tithe is 10% of all that we produce. One

of the places we find this is in Deuteronomy 26: 12-
13 …give a tenth of your produce to the priest, the

foreigner, the orphan, and the widow so that they

may eat their fill in your cities. And then, in the

Presence of GOD, your God, say this: I have

brought the sacred share, I've given it to the priest,

foreigner, orphan, and widow. What you

commanded, I've done. I haven't detoured around

your commands; I haven't forgotten a single one.”

Have we forgotten? The final promise we make

when joining the Church is to support its ministries

with our service. In Matthew 25:35-36 describes

service with these words, “I was hungry and you

fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me a drink, I

was homeless and you gave me a room, in prison

and you came to me.” He goes on to say that in as

much as you did these things for the least among

us you have done it for Jesus. Serving God

involves serving others. There is no way around it.

If we do not serve our neighbors we cannot serve


I would like to invite you to spend sometime this

week reflecting on your choice to serve God.

Reflect on all the ways God calls us to serve. Think

about your willingness to pray constantly, to show

up for worship regularly, to give generously, and to

serve God by serving the least among us. Think

about these things and then decide. Who will you

serve? …as for me and my household, we will

serve the LORD." Amen.