As for Me and My House
January 23-24, 2021
Joshua Chapter 24. This is our last study in the book of Joshua, and in many ways, it's really the highlight point of the book, and the title of the message is, As for Me and My House, what a declaration he makes in these verses, As for Me and My House, We Will Serve the Lord. Let's pray. Father, thank you for your word that you send by your spirit, sending your heart with that, to transform us by it. Lord, we open our heart to you, and we just asked that you would use the word now in our lives to honor your name, so we lift your word, and we ask God that you would touch us through your word now, in Jesus name, amen.
In these verses that we're going to study today, Joshua gives the most famous words that he has ever spoken, "Choose for yourself today whom you will serve. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." Now, these words which are so powerful in that day, ring throughout the centuries to our ears today, and I tell you they're as powerful today as when Joshua spoke them back then because that challenge is such a needful word to be spoken.
Joshua is old now, advanced in years, and he's got one last message. I tell you what, I have so much respect for Joshua. He has been a wonderful leader for Israel. How do you follow after Moses? Yet, he's done it well. What an example he's been to Israel. He's been like a father to them in many ways, an example of steadfastness, of faith. He's old now. He's advanced in years, he said it himself, and he's got one last message, he's going to finish strong. I got to love that. I want to finish strong like that.
It reminds me of Paul. Paul, when he was at the end of his journey, you might say, he said it like this, "The time of my departure has come. I fought the good fight. I finished the course, I kept the faith, and in the future, there is laid out for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge will award me on that day." Steadfast, Paul. I want to finish strong. Look back on your life and see how you lived it, and I want to finish strong.
The time of Joshua's departure has come. He got his Israel, and the leaders to hear this last word. Any good father and any good leader would want to leave something behind. You want to give something to those that come after, you want to give something to the generation that follows, to give them something to make their life blessed, successful, they have a good life, to have the way of greatest blessing. What do you give them? How do you give them something to help them?
I think a lot of times people think in terms of, "Well, I want to leave some money to the next generation." I'll tell you, there is something far greater than that. Give them a spiritual foundation. That's the way of greatest blessing. You want to bless the next generation, speak a word of truth. He brings this great speech to a point, an epic point of challenge, "You choose." They must decide for themselves to walk in the way of greatest blessing, to follow God by their own choosing.
There's an old saying, and it's quite true. God has no grandchildren. What does that mean? It means that no one can ride on the faith of their parents, no one can ride on the faith of their spouse, no one can ride on the faith of anyone else. Each person must have their own personal relationship to God. You have to have your own choice, your own relationship, so he tells him to choose. He makes this speech, very powerfully done. He begins by reminding them of the favor of God, "You have seen it with your own eyes, all that God has done for you."
Then I love this part of this speech, where he says, "You know in your hearts, and you know in your souls, that not one word of all the good words that God has spoken has failed. Every word has come to pass. You know it in your hearts." I love that part. He reminds me, it was God who drove out great and strong nations from before you, it was because of the favor of the Lord, that one could put 1,000 to flight. Now here they are, in that land that God had promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob all those years before. Oh, they've come so far.
Look what God has done, brought them out of Egypt, through the Red Sea, through the desert, He sustained them miracle after miracle every day for 40 years, they crossed the Jordan, and here they are, all because of the favor of God on their lives. Which is to say, "Well, don't turn back now. Don't stop now. Don't go back. Don't take it for granted," is the idea. Don't go back and cling to those things, those nations, the gods of those nations that stand against God because if you do-- He says, "Know this for certain. If you do go back and cling to those gods and nations of the world, know this for certain, the favor of God will not keep being poured out of your life, and you will have trouble, upon trouble upon trouble. These things, these nations, these people, they will be a snare and a trap to you. They will be like whips on your sides, thorns in your eyes, " that has got to hurt.
Then he says, "Until you perish off this good land, which the Lord your God is giving to you." See, these words are a challenge, and these words rain throughout the years, and they come to our ears today because there comes a time of choosing. Look back and see. Has God blessed your life? Have you seen the favor of God? I'll tell you, I look back on my life, and I am so thankful. God has blessed. I've seen the favor of God revealed in so so many ways.
You know that song we were singing earlier? I love a lot of the songs that we sing. That last song is particularly meaningful to me. I just love the words of it, "All my life, you have been faithful. All my life, you have been so, so good." Now I've seen a lot of tragedy in life. I've been through some great hurts, but I will tell you that God has been faithful to walk with me and to order the way before me, He has blessed my life, I am very, very thankful.
Can anybody join me in that? Can anybody say, "Yes and Amen," from your life? He has been so, so good. All my life, you've been faithful to me. See the amazing hand of God, see the favor of God, and then decide again whom you will serve, whom you will choose, draw a line in the sand. There comes a time when your faith must stand up and be counted, and that's the point of his message.
Let's read it. Joshua 24, we begin in verse 14, we're picking up his message really at the high point. At the culmination of the whole, and he sums that up with this challenge, verse 14, "Now, therefore, in light of all that I've said to you, fear the Lord and serve him with sincerity and truth, and put away the gods which your father served beyond the river." He's going all the way back now to Mesopotamia, the River Euphrates, where Abraham's father served other gods. "Put away these things, the gods your father served beyond the river or in Egypt, and serve the Lord." Actually, in the Hebrew, he mentions him by name, "Jehovah."
Verse 15, "If it's disagreeable to you. If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord." You find something wrong with the Lord? Something wrong with the gospel? You disagree with God. He says, "If it's disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, then choose for yourself today who you will serve, whether the gods which your father served, which will be on the river or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are now living." Then he makes this declaration, "As for me, and my house, we will serve the Lord." The most famous word that Joshua has ever spoken right there.
The people answered, verse 16, and they said, "Far be it from us that we should forsake the Lord to serve other gods." What a great answer. Oh, if it would only stay true in the history of Israel, but they're going to struggle with this, which is what we're going to read in the book of Judges. "Far be it from us that we should forsake the Lord and serve other gods, for the Lord, our God is He who brought us and our fathers up out of the land of Egypt from the house of bondage. It was He who did these great signs in our sight and preserved us all the way in which we went, and among all the peoples through whose midst we passed, and it was the Lord who drove out from before us all the peoples even the Amorites who lived in the land. You say you will serve the Lord? We also will serve the Lord for He is our God." What a tremendous answer.
I. Now, Therefore, Fear the Lord
These words of this speech are for us to receive and to apply to our lives starting with this. Notice in verse 14 how he begins. "In light of everything that I just said, in everything you see the favor of God, so therefore now fear the Lord." He goes all the way back from ancient times, look back, God took them out of worldly places. God recounts going all the way back to Abraham. Oh, the blessing, how He multiplied him coming through Egypt, the Red Sea, living in the wilderness, all the land that God promised, all the blessings.
Even when the king of Moab arose and fought against Israel summoning Balaam to bring a curse against Israel, God would not hear such a thing. No curse can alight on those whose hand God's on. Balaam had to bless Israel. Over and over he brings that to them. See the favor of God? "Now, therefore, fear the Lord. It's the beginning of wisdom," the scripture says.
What does it mean to fear? It's not a negative word, it's not a fear that strikes some negative emotion, that's not it at all. The word "fear" here means it's a very strong word, that's good, to respect, to stand in awe, to have reverence. I tell you what, that's a good word because there needs to be more revering of God today. We live in a time and in a culture where there is a lot of mocking of the things of God. There needs to be more revering. I tell you there's where that challenge resides like, "Hey the world's going to do what the world's going to do, but as for me in my house, I've decided, I know where I stand." What a perfect thing he gives. You respect God.
Maybe an illustration or a way to see it would be like this; if you have a good father, I have to qualify that because there's a lot of people who have not had a good father, but if you've had a good father, it's a great picture of it because you know the father's love. You don't question that for one moment, but at the same time, if you know of his great love for you, you also respect him. You have a lot of respect. If you have a really good father, you respect that father. That's the idea.
A. Serve Him in sincerity and truth
He says, "In light of all that God has done, fear the Lord." Then he follows right behind it by saying, "Then and serve him in sincerity and truth." If God's done this for you, if the favor of God has been seen in your life, you have a very special relationship to God. How do you respond then to that? You serve Him in sincerity and truth. Now the word "serve" is just as it appears. To serve means to recognize His authority, that's really what it is. To serve means that He's the master, that He's got authority in your life.
Now, this is a very important key to a relationship to the living God. You see if He has authority, and His word has the authority and then He says, "I say to you this in my word," if you have this heart and character you say, "Yes Lord." When He says, "I want you to walk in this way," say, "Yes, Lord. You have authority in my life. I know your heart is to bless me. I say, 'Yes, Lord,' to you." That's to serve the Lord.
In the book of Leviticus, we were reading about a type of servant that serves willingly, freely, "I want to serve, I love to serve. It's my delight to serve you." It was like a bondservant. Back in the days of the ancient history of Israel, a person could get themselves into servitude by finding themselves in debt and going into debt or servitude. Then of course there was the great provision of the law of God that every sabbath year, all debts would be forgiven and those in such servitude could be set free.
It was a great provision of the heart of God, but there were certain servants who said, "I don't want to change this. I love this thing. I love this relationship that we have. I love to serve, it's my delight to serve." They would actually commemorate it and mark it by taking an awl and driving a hole in the man's ear willingly so as to mark it. He says, "No, I choose this because I love this." Paul in the New Testament used this expression to describe himself over and over. "I am a bondservant of the Lord, Jesus Christ." Powerful understanding. Serve Him. Then he says, "Willingly serve Him with sincerity."
Now this word, "sincere" is an interesting word. You can do a fantastic word study all the way through the Bible because we use the English word, "sincere" to translate out of the Hebrew and the Greek and it comes to us in Latin. There's a law behind it. In the Hebrew, the word in which we translate now "sincerity" or "sincere" means, "the whole of it," "the completeness of it." In other words, serve him with all of your heart. That's what he means, "Sincerely." With the character of a heart, that is wholly God's, sincerely. That's what it means.
We might use the word today "integrity". If a person has integrity in their character, then they have that character of that which is good and godly through and through. It's consistent. You can't see the inner workings of a man or a woman, you cannot see the inner workings, but to have integrity means that it is in fact true through and through, that's the idea. Serve him sincerely, with all, all of your-- You mean it. When you say it, you mean it. When you say you love the Lord, you mean it.
Here's why that's an interesting word. We get the word sincere directly out of the Latin, and the root in Latin "sincere" is actually "no wax." "What does that have to do with 'sincere'?" You might say. It's an interesting background. Back in the days of the Romans and the Greeks, it was very common for people to have sculptures. It was the thing to do. To get a sculpture of this or that, marbled sculpture to have in your garden or a bust or this or that in your house. It was quite a thing to have such a thing in the garden. An artisan, a sculptor could spend hours and hours and hours fashioning and shaping and to have it perfect.
The problem with working with marble is that you just make one wrong chip or whatever, now all of a sudden the thing is flawed. You get a chip out of the arm, or you're working on the nose, and all of sudden the nose falls off, like, "Oh, no." Some of the, let's say less than scrupulous artisans not wanting to waste all of those hours would use wax. What they would do is they would take some of the chippings from the floor, grind it into a powder, mix it with the wax and repair the nose or put fill in the chip or whatever and you couldn't even tell it, like, "That looks amazing."
There you are, you want to buy a beautiful statue and you see something and you think, "Oh, this is wonderful," and you bring it home, you set it up in the garden next to the water, and, "Oh, it looks wonderful," until the sun comes into the heat of the day and then all of a sudden you look at your statue and the nose starts to become disfigured. It's like, "What is this?" The artisans, therefore, had to bring a certificate of sincerity, "This statue is sincere. This statue has no wax. It is in fact what you see."
Now, do you see the application? Some people have wax. They have the appearance, they look one thing, but they're not. That's where God says, "I want you to be sincere." It means a lot to the Lord that you be sincere. Serve Him willingly with sincerity. "I love this. This is what I do." I love this with sincerity." It's a great word. This is what Paul said when he used that word in Philippians 1:10-11, "Approve the things that are excellent." That right there is a great word. What do you approve of? Well, approve the things that are excellent in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ, having been filled with the fruit of righteousness, which comes through Jesus Christ to the glory and praise of God. Be sincere.
Then he said, "Serve Him in sincerity and truth for, they are in fact, part of one another." If you serve the Lord, sincerely, then you are standing in the truth. Psalm 15:1-2 and verse 4, speak to it, "Who may abide in your tent, Lord? Who may dwell on your holy hill, Lord? He who walks with integrity. He who works righteousness. He who speaks truth in his heart-" I love this, "-and he does not change." That is such a good word, "He does not change. He speaks truth."
B. Put away the gods of the past
This is important. Truth is not just something to know. Truth is not just something to have. Truth is something to be. It's an aspect of the character, be true in your character. I love this, "He does not change." There's something right and good about a character like that. Then he follows by saying, "Therefore, fear the Lord, serve him with sincerity and truth and put away the gods of the past." In other words, put away the gods of the past.
This is the key for spiritual strength. Where does strength come from? Comes from the favor of God in your life. There's a spiritual decision. I know where my help comes from. I know where strength comes from. I know where joy comes from. It doesn't come from the gods of the past. "Put away," he says, "the gods which your fathers served beyond the river and in Egypt and serve the Lord."
Now from this verse, I think we can safely conclude that there were some people in Israel who in fact had some of those gods in their tents. Now, remember back in the days, when they had such gods, they would make grand statues of them but then they would also make little statuettes by which a person could take a copy of that Baʽal or Astaroth or Moloch or whatever, and put it in their tent or the house or whatever, and then they would have this God and think that "Oh, see, now, I have that influence of that god in my house."
Now, this may seem amazing considering everything that God has done for them, why would you have these things? See, this is, unfortunately, part of human nature, because it's very much true today. People still hold on to things from their past, things from the world. When someone comes to faith in Jesus Christ, there's a process of transformation. There's a process of change. It doesn't happen in one fell day, one fell swoop. Someone doesn't come to faith in Christ, and then the next day they're at the pinnacle of spiritual maturity. I have never seen that.
You meet someone who's mature in their faith and they're walking in grand spiritual maturity, and you say to them, "How long have you been walking in the Lord?" "Oh, I just came to faith, yesterday." "Really?" No, it doesn't happen that way. There's a process of change, of letting go of the things of which you once held dear, it's a process.
I remember in my own life, I first made a decision for Christ when I was 11. God stirred something marvelous. I saw the example of my mother who was steadfast in her faith in spite of all the suffering that she did. I could see her example, and I wanted this faith, so I made a decision at 11, but this was before the turbulent years of high school. I made some poor choices in high school. Then I went to Oregon State University, a fine university, but a terrible experience for me. I got involved in all manner of worldly things. I'll just tell you right now, it was an unmitigated disaster. It brought to me a crisis of the soul.
It came to a point where I, one day, looked at myself in the mirror and I did not like what I saw. I don't mean the physical aspect of it. I mean the spiritual aspect of it. I did not respect the person I was seeing in the mirror. I did not like who I had become and it bothered me tremendously. I remember just in that point of crisis, calling out to God, "God, I don't like who I am. I don't like who I've become. I don't like the nature of the person I'm seeing in the mirror. What do I do?"
I don't know if you've ever felt the impression of God on your heart, but I just had this impression that God was putting on my heart saying this, "This is what you do. You walk one day at a time and I will transform this person that you see in the mirror one day at a time. One day, step by step, day after day, I'll change it." That was the process. "Okay, God, start walking with me," and he began to show the things of the past that I once held dear had begone. Let go of the things of the past. I had to go through all my old music. I had to get rid of my old eight-tracks. I know. Some of you don't even know what an eight-track is. Ask someone old, they'll tell you.
It's funny, one point then, I meet Jordy and we have a relationship, we get engaged, and then two weeks before the wedding, we decided that I would move in with my mom, and then she would move into my place so that she could settle in and clean because apparently cleaning was something that was important to her. It wasn't all that important to me. You with me? She's going to move in and it starts settling in and clean, going through and organizing, and whatnot.
She's going through the refrigerator, stuff that had been there for, who knows how long, and the process of going through, again, organizing, looking through, and she came upon an album of pictures of my old girlfriends. Exactly. My friends, there are some things that you got to let go of from the past. Amen. If there are any young man in this room, I say to you, write that down. Don't write it with a pen and paper, write it with a chisel and some rocks. That's an important point to take hold of. There are some things you got to let go of. It's a process.
This is what John said, notice the Apostle John said something similar in 1st John 5:21, "Little children, guard yourselves from idols." Why would he have to say that? Because it was a thing in Joshua's day, it was a thing in John's day and it's a thing today. It's still a thing today. Is it enough to believe in God? There's a modern statistic. People have been polled in our country and the results were that 90%, more than 90% of the people say that they believe in God. I asked this question, is that enough? Is it enough to believe in God?
I submit that 100% of the people in hell believe in God. The book of James tells us that even the demons believe in God and they have the sense to tremble at the thought. I ask the question, is that enough? I suggest to you that it isn't. It isn't whether a person believes in God, it's whether they will serve him with sincerity and truth and honor him in their lives
because there are many people who want both. They believe in God, but they want to keep the things, the idols from the world. Do we have such things today?
Well, we don't have the little figurines, we don't have little statuettes, but we do have idols today. There is the idol of pleasure, the god of pleasure, the god of alcohol or drugs, or the god of mammon. Material things can become a god of mammon, the scripture says. In fact, Jesus said in Luke 16:13, this warning Jesus gave, "No servant can serve two masters-" it cannot be, "-for either, he will hate the one and love the other or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other." You cannot serve God and mammon.
Then finally, he gives another reason to put away the gods of this world. It comes to us out of Psalm 115: 4 and 8, he says, "Now their idols are silver and gold, the work of man's hands." Notice this because it's a key phrase, "Those who make them will become like them." Everyone who trusts in them, you will become like them that you serve. If a person has the idol of pleasure, the scripture says they will be reduced to a loaf of bread. The god of alcohol cannot save. It cannot help you. On and on we see the power of that word. You cannot do both. It does not work well to do both.
II. Choose Today Whom You will Serve
That's why Joshua said, "Put away the things from the past and choose today, whom you will serve." He begins by saying, 'If it's disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, then choose for yourselves today whom you will serve." I find that an interesting statement, disagreeable. Do you find something wrong with the gospel? Something wrong with God? You're offended in some way? You find something disagreeable? I suggest to you that many do disagree. Many do find it disagreeable. Why? What could be wrong? What could be wrong with the gospel? The grace, the favor, the amazing hand, what is disagreeable?
May I make a suggestion? I think that there are many who have this complaint. They want to be able to drink poison and not be sick. They want to be able to play with scorpions and not be stung. They want to be able to play with fire and not get burned, but God knows the world doesn't work that way. This is a broken world, and there are many broken people in it. If you drink poison, you will in fact get sick. God knows that, which is why he gives this powerful, epic speech, "I love you." I want you to have the fullness of God in your life. I want you to have your soul that is filled and overflowing with that which is good and godly. The joy of the Lord, the peace of the Lord. All that He says out of love.
Joshua knew that to compromise on this point will make them spiritually sick. Those words come to us today. We need to make a decision, choose for yourselves today, stand on that decision, point your life toward the Lord, fix your eyes on Jesus and don't turn to the right or to the left, the point that he's driving to is this, because you're going to have to serve somebody.
A. You're gonna have to serve somebody
Now that expression actually comes to us. It was said by that famous great American philosopher, Bob Dylan. Many people don't remember Bob Dylan, you have to be a little old. How many people remember Bob Dylan? I remember very well, a song that he wrote. I remember this song very well because the generation before me love this song. The words of the song were this, "You're going to have to serve somebody. It may be the devil, it may be the Lord, but you got to serve somebody."
Joshua was calling them to choose, to decide between the two because you can't have both. This is what Paul wrote, he wrote something similar in Romans 6:16, "Do you not know that when you present yourself to someone as slaves for obedience, that you are slaves of the one to whom you obey?" Whoever it is that you are obeying, whatever it is that you are obeying that is to whom you are the servant. Whether it be the god of pleasure or alcohol or drugs or whatever it may be, or mammon, you are slaves to the one to whom you obey, either of sin, which results in death or of obedience, which results in righteousness.
This is an important word. Paul is making the same appointment, you cannot have both, but some people want to have both. They want to be in God and they want to be in the world. They want to drink poison and not get sick. They want to play with fire and not get burned. This is what I call the miserable middle. It's in the middle between the world and God, and they're miserable because they're in the middle. They have enough of Jesus to be miserable in the world, and they have enough of the world to not have the joy of the Lord.
Jesus made a very similar warning to the church at Laodicea and the book of Revelation and he's talking about the dangers of being in the middle. This is Revelation 3:15-20, powerful verses, powerful words by our Lord. He's bringing to the attention of the condition of what might be called lukewarm. What is lukewarm? It's a person, it's a condition that's halfway between hot and cold. It's neither hot nor cold. It's somewhere in the middle.
This is what Jesus says in Revelation 3, He says, "I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot." Would you listen to this? "I wish that you were either hot or cold." This is the word of the Lord, "I want you to choose. You either be hot or cold. Don't be in the middle, that lukewarm condition." He says, "Because you are lukewarm and you are neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth."
I suggest to you that is a tall statement right there because you say this because you say, "I am rich, I have become wealthy, I have need of nothing." Now there's an attitude there. You can just pick it up. There's an attitude behind that, "I have need of nothing." May I suggest, by the way? Let me add something. Obviously, there's an attitude there. Can I suggest an attitude that is far greater, an attitude of being thankful?
If God has blessed you, if you have an abundance because of the blessing of God on your life, be thankful. I'll tell you what being thankful does, A, it keeps you humble. It's a condition by which you recognize that God is the one who's blessed your life. Anything that you have, God did it. "God's hand was on my life. God brought this favor. Anything I have, God, you already brought it to me." Otherwise, an attitude comes in, "I did that. Why do I need God? I did that. I am the one. I am the all of that," to which Jesus says, "You do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked." You're quite blind. If you can't see it, you're quite blind.
Then Jesus gives this word, I love this word because He gives the answer, "I advise you to buy from me gold refined by fires so that you may become rich." He's speaking here of a spiritual life. That's the key to a life well-lived. "I advise you to buy from me white garments so that you might cloth yourself and the shame of your nakedness not be revealed. I advise you to buy it from me. I serve to anoint your eyes so that you may see because you're quite blind. Open your eyes and see."
B. Choose for yourselves today…
Then he follows with this very famous verse, it's even more powerful when you see it in its context, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in into him and dine with him and he with me." Which is to say, "The heart of God here, I want this for you. I want this for you. I want a relationship with you. That's why I'm knocking on the door of your heart, that's why I'm calling out your name. I want a relationship where we dine together, that speaks of a friendship and relationship and nearness and closeness and blessing. This is what I want." God says, "This is what I want for you. Open your eyes, see it."
Then Joshua brings them to the culmination of the whole speech when he says, "Now, choose for yourselves. You choose for yourself today." This is the key. He knew that they must decide man by man, family by family. "In order for the nation to have the strength of God on the nation, you got to choose man by man, family by its family. Each one must make his own decision. Choose for yourself. As for me in my house, I know where we stand, we will serve the Lord."
I got to love Joshua. Joshua is a leader who does not depend on others to make a stand. He will make a stand all alone if he has to. He does not depend on anyone to make a stand, he knows where he stands. We can go all the way back in the history of Joshua and see this was clearly evident. You go all the way back, more than 45 years before this when Israel was at a cross point in their history at Kadesh Barnea and the people of Israel had fear that swept through their hearts and would not take God at his word, would not move forward, it was only Joshua and Caleb alone. Alone, they stood. They said to the people of Israel, "Don't do this. God has made a promise and I say, let's stand on that promise."
Joshua doesn't need anyone, he will make his stand all alone if he has to and I'll tell you what, there's something still right about that. This world is so against God, it's like a great river that's flowing and so many just float along in it like so much jetsam and flotsam, but there are some who stand like rocks in the middle of the current who will not be moved. "Take your stand," he says, "Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve."
God challenges us to make the same decision today. You choose for yourself who you will serve. Joshua could not choose for them, they had to choose each one, but then he says, "As for me and my house--" it's a powerful statement. It means, "This is what happens in my house." We need more people today who are like this, who can stand, make a decision and stand on it against the current of this world.
Your kids may not like it, but that's where leadership comes in. "As for me and my house," means that your house may be different than other houses. At one point in our growing up our kids, at one point we had five teenagers in the house at one time, as many of you know, and there were times when they pushed back on the rules, like, "Hey, other people are doing this, other people are watching that," or, "Other people are going to that party." I said, "That's them. That's them and their house but as for me and my house, we will honor the Lord in this house." Each one must decide.
I was reminded of when we adopted our boys, they were from Russia, we went to Moscow to get them and we had to stand in front of a judge who questioned us, "What will your house be like?" This and that. The judge asked this question, which I found an interesting question, the judge says, "Will you force these boys to become Christians?" Now I have no problem with the question. I was not the least bit offended at the question. It's actually a very good question.
"Will you force these boys to become Christians?" The judge said and I said, "Absolutely not. Absolutely not, I would never suggest that anyone be forced to accept a faith in Jesus Christ, they must choose on their own what they will do with their lives, but I will tell you this, in my house, we go to church, in my house, we honor God, in my house, this is the way we live. They can decide when they're old enough to decide, but when they're in my house, this is what we do."
I remember when the kids were older and they'd been there in our house for a while and one of them started to have an attitude. I will not tell you who it was but he started to push back, didn't like these rules and so at one point he said, "When I become a parent I'm not going to have rules like these," I said, "You're not?" He said, "No, I'm going to let them do whatever they want." I said to myself, "Oh, let me see that day."
I said, "When you are a parent and you have your family and your house, then you can choose how your house will be then, but you're in my house now and in my house, we honor the Lord." Now I didn't just stop there. I didn't just say, "This is the end of it." No. The scripture says, "Come, let's reason together." God gives you the "why". I said to him, "Let me explain to you why, why we have these things, why we have these rules, why we do these things, let me tell you why because I love you and I want for you the best possible life that you can possibly have. I'll tell you that the key to it is the character of which is being built in your life right now. That's the key. The faith, the character, the heart. That's the answer. I love you and that's why we say what we say."
By the way, all of my kids honor the Lord. That one there, very respectful, very honoring, very much loves to be in this family, to which I give God thanks. Choose for yourself, the time of the decision is now. If you're young, if you're not married yet, now is the time to decide what will your life, your home be? It's not too young. You make a decision when you're young, I'll tell you the great blessing that will come, you'll have many years to see the faithfulness of God, you'll have many years to see the hand in favor of God in your life, but if you're old, it's not too late. You're not too old, you're not too young. Whatever you got left, honor God in it.
Many of you know my story. My father, he was an alcoholic, abusive, cantankerous, difficult. At 75 years old, we had an early morning breakfast, he wanted to talk, so we sat there and I said, "What is it you would like to talk about?" He said, "I've come to see that I've wasted all my life." His eyes are opening, "I've come to see I have wasted all my life, I don't know how much time I have left-" He had been dealing with cancer, "-I don't know how much time I have left, but whatever I have, I want to make something of that. Would you help me?" Oh, what words. I said, "Oh, I would love to help you."
He made arrangements, he moved away to another state, divorced my mom, it was a big drama, but we brought him back, set him up, and established him again and then he came to church. We made sure he had a way to get to church.
There one day I was giving an invitation, very similar thing, "Choose," and I looked over, I said, "If anyone would receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, I give you this invitation. Would you just raise your hand so that I could see you and agree with you in prayer?" I looked, I started here and I started across the room and there he was. In the back of the room, he had stood on his feet and he raised his hand like this. He had a very strong constitution, so when he did something, he did it.
I could not believe what I saw, after all, that we had been through, but there he was. All I could say was, "Come here. Come here." Everyone, of course, they had been praying, when they heard me say, "Come here," they looked up to see what was happening and there was my dad shuffling down the aisle, frail, old man, but he came. My heart was just bursting inside. I took hold of him and hugged him, and I said to everyone, "This is my dad." Everyone started clapping. They had known the stories and there they were. We actually broke out into worship, I remember right now. We sang this song, "I exalt thee." We just broke out in song.
Oh, what a glorious moment. My mom was there, she had been standing next to him. Can you imagine all the years that she had prayed for that day? She was crying, tears flowing as here comes this man. It's not too late. We were having a baptism shortly thereafter him, and he said, "I want to do it. I wanted to be baptized." I said, "It will be my delight to baptize you. With my own hands, I'll baptize you." In fact, it was the same day that our oldest daughter got baptized.
Oh, what a day that was. We had four more years until he passed, but what a transformation? It changed the last four years and it changed how he died because when he died, his family was around him, holding his hand, blessing him. It's not too late. You're not too young, you're not too old. Whatever you've got, whatever you got left, honor God. "Choose for yourselves today whom you will serve," He says. You got to choose yourself, no one can choose for you. It's you and God. How are you going to live? How are you going to live your life? As for me in my house, we will serve the Lord. How about you? Choose. Make a choice.
Let's pray. Father, thank you so much for showing us your heart, reveal healing to us the favor that you have so amazingly poured out upon our lives. We see now that you've done all of that to win our hearts. When you sent your son to die on the cross as penalty for our sin, you demonstrated your great love and then said, "Choose. Choose. Choose life, choose forgiveness, choose peace, choose joy, choose to walk in the way of greatest blessing." You got to choose yourself, no one can choose for you, but there comes a time when you got to decide. There comes a time when your face got to stand up and be counted. "Choose," He says, today, "whom you will serve."
Church, how many would say today, the Holy Spirit is using this word to bring that same to us today? God says, "I know your heart and I'm calling out to you. I know your name. I want you to have this life. I give you this invitation." Church, it begins with a decision. Doesn't it? It begins with the decision to receive the Lord, Jesus Christ into your heart as Lord and Savior, to serve him with sincerity and truth. That's where it begins, a decision.
Would you receive Jesus Christ today as Lord and savior? I give you this invitation. I extend to you this invitation from God himself. He wants that relationship, He's knocking on the door of your heart, He's calling out your name. Would you choose Him? If you would make a decision for Jesus Christ in the same way that I gave an invitation to my dad, I give that invitation to you today.
Would you receive Jesus Christ as Lord and savior? Would you make that decision today? If you would, would you just raise your hand that I could agree with you in the same way that I said that to my dad? I say it to you, "Would you just raise your hand that I could agree with you in prayer?" Amen. God bless. Anyone else? Just raise your hand to the Lord, if you would open your heart to the Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen. God bless you, all the way over there on the side, in the back. Anyone else? God bless you. That choice is yours. Anyone else?
Father, thank you for everyone who's made that choice, everyone who's opened their heart to you to say, "Yes, God. As for me, I make this choice." Church, I want to do this too. Would you make this declaration to me? I want to ask that we would all say these words together. "As for me and my house." Can we say these together? "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."
Father, we honor you and thank you for how you have poured your life, your spirit of love upon us, for pursuing us with your son. We give you thanks and honor and glory for it all now in Jesus's name, and everyone say, "Can we give the Lord praise and glory and honor?" Amen? Amen. Amen.