Moving Forward in 2019
Church, if you would turn with me to Joshua Joshua chapter 23, I were not going to read any of Joshua 23, but I feel like it's important to kind of set the stage. So I want you to turn there. Bear with me we'll get there. I promise. Now and I've I've had several comments this morning to about how I'm dressed. I want you to know. This is not a new Leaf that I'm turning over. I will not wear a suit jacket every week just until I can get rid of everything. I ate the last two weeks. I'll be wearing this. All right.
Gear on the last Sunday of 2018 we come to our last message together in the Book of Joshua and the Book of Joshua. We've been looking at it and it's all about faith moving forward. How do the people of God receive the call of God? And do it. That's what we've been looking at and we've looked at things that we should emulate and and guys that we should look up to his Heroes of the faith because they move forward in faith, even when the odds were stacked against them and we've looked at examples of things we shouldn't do how we shouldn't be how we shouldn't forget the Lord how we shouldn't fail to believe his promise of provision for how we should be willing to again move forward in faith becomes really really crucial that we know how to move forward especially as we come to the end of something. We come to the end of 2018 and we have a whole year that we can look back at the whole year. We could look back at and if you're like me, you've got some regrets about 2018. Some of you had absolutely brutal 2018. Some of you face circumstances losses of loved ones illnesses disasters that that came into your life, and it was just brutal and you can't wait to say goodbye to 2018. Some of you though you had a really good time 2018. Some of you life was great and things went well. And yeah, there were a few bumps in the road, but overall you can't complain and so you look back at 2018 and it's it's not a sense of dread what was but maybe there's a sense of man of 2018. Was that good? Must be storing something up for 2019 because when we come to the end of something whether it was good or whether it was bad. We automatically this is human nature. We automatically begin to shift our Focus to what's next. We as humans aren't very good at living in now. We're always looking back or we're always looking forward. I think that's not something we should just reject out-of-hand or or think that that's necessarily a bad thing. I think that's actually part of how God wired us. That's kind of how he designed us to do that. That's why I think it's appropriate here at the end of 2018 to say. Alright, this is over whether it was great while it was not so great. Turn your attention now to what comes next. And here's my question for you. What are you looking forward to in 2019 you guys ask this question of each other earlier, didn't you? What is it that you're that you're focused on that? You're thinking. I can't wait for this how many of you are making New Year's resolutions. I know you guys got the smarts, haven't you? What's a New Year's resolution? It's a list of things to do the first week of January. That's the way I look at it.
The biggest thing I think that we look at is humans when we come to this new year when we come to looking forward to something is wheat, we think about all the possibilities about all of the choices and often times. That's what are resolutions are focused on the really just our choosing a choice about what we want to be in a most New Year's resolutions are focused on I want to be a more fit me a less heavy me not that those are personal resolutions for me or anything. Sometimes we focus on I want to learn something new. I'm going to learn a new language in 2019 minutes go someplace. I'm going to travel to this place in 2019 and most of our choices. Most of my resolutions are focused on making us a better us making us a better human. Okay, but here's my question to you. You're sitting in a church on the last Sunday of 2018. You have a lot of different places. You could be this morning instead. You're here why I'm assuming that most of you are here because you love the guy who started the church you love Jesus. That's my assumption now if you're sitting here this morning, and you don't love Jesus. I'm still glad that you're here. And I'm thinking that you're here because you're looking for something you're imagining. There's a bag of 2018. My life good bad indifferent doesn't seem quite complete and I think that you're here because you're expecting to find something. Well, I want to say to both both crowds whether you're following Jesus or or whether you don't follow Jesus, but you're curious enough to show up at church this morning. Here's what I want to know instead of focusing 2019 on being a better you What is 2019 was about doing what God wanted you to do? What is 2019 was about being a better christ-follower? What is 2019 was about being what God intended you to be? Now most resolutions fail by January 15th. Ke certainly certainly by March 15th, but what if I could guarantee you that if your commitment was I want to be a better Christ follower if I am one or I want to know more about how God made me I want to be the best me. I can possibly be what if I could guarantee you success in that endeavor in 2019. Would anybody take me up on that deal?
You just have to follow three simple steps. Nnn knows we've been here for a while, you know, this isn't the kind of sermon that I normally preach but when I looked at Joshua 23 and 24 we come to Joshua at a kind of a pivotal time in his life just like we're at a pivotal time in the calendar year. Joshua is a Dependable time in his life because he's in Joshua chapter 23. Like I said, we're not going to read it, but you got it in front of you so you can check me on this. Joshua is old and very advanced in years. He's really old is 110 actually and he's coming to that point where he's looking back at his life and he wants to know what's my legacy what's behind me and with Joshua we see that it's it's what God called him to do. So he gathers the leaders of Israel and he says look, the one thing my life has been focused on has been on getting you to do what God wanted you to do. And now here's my challenge to you moving forward Joshua recognize that he's not going to be there in the future. But when he dies the people of Israel going to be looking to the Future and he gives them three simple steps. To ensure success in what God has called them to be and to do and so that's where we pick up for ourselves when we say hey, maybe what Joshua told Israel then could apply to our lives today in Joshua 23 calls them all together and he says this is what is happening. I'm about to die. He doesn't say it in quite so many words, but that's essentially what he saying. I'm about to die. And now it's going to be up to you guys too. Kind of carry the torch so he tells the leaders make sure you focus on what God has called you to make sure you remember who God is and why it is it you are who you are. Make sure you keep your focus on God. And so then he says I'm going to die. Thank you leaders for coming to my deathbed then he calls together all the people in chapter 24 in this is where we're actually going to read part of the text because this is where Joshua begins to give us as he's at the end of his life. He says these are the three things that will ensure success as you try to be the best that God has made you to be Joshua chapter 24 Starting in verse 1 Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to shake him and some of the elders that had the judges in the officers of Israel and they presented themselves before God and Joshua said to all the people thus says the Lord the god of Israel long ago, your father's lived beyond the Euphrates Tara the father of Abraham and of neighbor and they served other gods then I took your father Abraham from beyond the river and I let him through all the land of Canaan and made his offspring many I gave him Isaac. And the Isaac, I gave Jacob a Nissan I gave Esau the Hill Country of Sarah to possess but Jacob and his children went down to Egypt. And I sent Moses and Aaron I plagued to Egypt with what I did in the midst of it and afterwards I brought you out. Then I brought your father's out of Egypt and you came to the Sea and the Egyptians pursued your father's with chariots and Horsemen to the Red Sea and when they cried out to the Lord, he put Darkness between you and the Egyptians and made the sea come upon them and cover them in your eyes. Saw what I did in Egypt and you lived in the wilderness a long time. Then I brought you to the land of the amorites who lived on the other side of the Jordan they fought with you and I gave them into your hand. You took possession of their land and I destroyed them before you then balok the son of zip or king of Moab arose and fought against Israel. He sent and invited Balaam the son of beor to curse you but I would not listen to Bailon indeed. He blessed you. So I delivered you out of his hand and he went over the Jordan and came to Jericho and the leaders of Jericho fought against you in the amorites in the parasites in the Canaanites the Hittites the girgashites the hivites and the jebusites and I gave them into your hand and I sent the Hornet before you which drove them out before you the two kings of the amorites. It was not by your sword or by your bow. I gave you a land on which you had not A bird and cities that you had not built and you dwell in them. You eat the fruit. A Vineyards and Olive Orchards that you did not plant. What Joshua does for the people of Israel is he says look the first thing you need to understand is my life and I'm no longer going to lead you in as you look at a future and you've got to move forward in faith. The first thing the Joshua says the people of Israel that they need to do. They need to review all the good things that God has done for them. They need to remember. The many many ways that God has blessed them. Now if you're sitting here and your 2018 was one of those really really tough ones your 2018 was super rough and you're like well that I can be a quick review for this year. Let's just think about that for a second. What is it that God did for you in 2018?
Are you breathing?
That's a gift from God. seriously
You're breathing you're alive. there still hope For you, that is a gift from God. How many of you had one person at least one person with whom you laughed this year.
That's a gift from God. How many of you saw something so I inspiring it took your breath away this year? That's a gift from God. How many of you had a moment of Peace in 2018? Everybody but the mom's pretty much.
Right, that's a gift from God and we overlooked these little things that are gifts from God but it's not just little things that God does for us right? He's little moments, but we tend to overlook those moments. And so we want to start by reflecting and I'd encourage you to do that right. Now. You have my permission to tune Me Out ignore what I'm saying for a second. I just reflect in 2018 review that there is also some really big things that God has done for you last week. We celebrated the Incarnation. We celebrated Emmanuel God With Us right. We celebrated the fact that God did not leave Humanity to their own devices, but sent his son Jesus Christ to pay the penalty for their sin. Is that a gift? Yeah, yeah, that's a big one. We can review that and be thankful for that. And guess what? You don't have to just be thankful for it every year around December 25th. You can remember that day by day. God loves you so much that he sent his son to die for you. That's a gift that God has given what has God done for you. He sent his son to die for you. The only thing that would be better than that. Is if he raised that son and promises you Resurrection as well, and guess what? You have that. Hope if you're a Christ follower. You have that hope that death is not the end that Resurrection is coming. Is that a gift? Boy, that's a gift but you're not dead yet. You're still breathing. We established that already right everybody. Check your neighbor make sure cuz I see some eyes drooping. No sew dad is a gift your breathing and you have the hope of Resurrection if you stop breathing, but what about the meantime? Is there any hope for you in the meantime? Yeah, those who follow Christ have the promise of the Holy Spirit the presence of God to and comfort them to empower them for service 2 to give their life meaning and purpose and a relationship with their father in Heaven. That's a gift. No matter how hard 2018 is. I think if we review it will find that there were some really good things that took place will find those moments will be grateful for them will think about salvation will think about the power of the holy spirit will think about the hope of the Resurrection will think wow God's done a lot for me. That's that's step. Number one review all the good things that God has done for you. You know, what as a church we can do this to 2018 was a big year in the Life Church in if if if you're not a part of Red Hills, you just hear this morning's going to checking things out. You need to understand some of our background 2018 was huge for us. We voted in a new Constitution and bylaws which doesn't sound that exciting but it was a constitution bylaws based on us is the people of God saying we're going to do everything according to the word of God. We're going to so far as we're able to build everything we do on the foundation of what God has said not what we think. And so we're in that process and we said was with that we said hey I said that some of you thought it you know, Brandon's not good enough to do this thing on his own and so by God's grace. We recognize men that got it placed in our midst who were set apart as pastors. We voted new Pastors in so that now it's not just my ideas. It's four of us seeking God together on how do we go forward as a church that's huge for us. Right and we sent Mission teams out and we had Mission teams come in and we got to be a part of the work that God is doing around the world and their opportunities to serve. We had a hundred and fifty show up for the first day of VBS this year right that that's pretty remarkable that that would take place and we've seen new Sunday School classes start and we've had all kinds of stuff we can do people join the church. We've seen people baptized choosing to follow Christ. It's Been a Good Year. It's been a really good year and it's important for us to review the things that God has done not just individually, but for us collectively and when we review the things that God is. Here's what happens as we look forward into the future. That's what we think. So here's what you should think, you know if he did it in 2018 and if I think about it, he didn't 2017 + 16 + 15 + 14 + 13. + this is like prehistoric for some of you but you know, 12 + 11 + 10 + all the way back. We start looking at our lives will realize God has always been there. He's always showed up.
Pretty good idea. He's not going to go anywhere in 2019. I'm pretty sure that the guy who's been faithful literally since everything started isn't going to suddenly stop being faithful in 2019. And so what matters to us in 2019 if we want to say this is going to be my year that I'm going to be the best price for this is going to be the year that I do what God has called me to do. We remember what God has done because it gives us confidence for the future. Here's the next thing that I would say though. The Joshua points out and will read it here in a second. The second thing that we need to do. If this is true what has God done that gives us hope for the future. We need to get rid of the things that distract us from God. We need to get rid of the things that cause us to forget what God has done. That's the amazing thing about reviewing what God has done for us. No brainer hate we're just going to continue trusting. We're going to continue following him. But here's the thing. We as humans are pretty good at that. We are easily distracted will being Right, we continually forget what it is that God has done and I'm not joking literally every stress in your life. Literally every piece of negative negativity in your life is a direct result of forgetting God.
Every negative experience you have is a result of forgetting the one who is faithful at all times. It's not like he is punishing you and those stresses come. No, it's just that you've moved away from him. And this is something we all do something. We see at work in the world around us. We just forget God. good news It's nothing new. bad news It's nothing new. We've had a long time to fix this and we just can't seem to get it fixed. We keep taking our eyes off of God. We keep taking our eyes off of the amazing provision that he makes it for us and then we deal with anger and we deal with stress and we deal with broken relationships and we deal with so many difficult things because we take our eyes off of God. Get rid of those things that take your eyes off of God. This is where Israel was at. This is what Joshua tells them look at team 24. Now therefore fear the lord. And serve him in sincerity and faithfulness put away the god that your father served beyond the river and in Egypt and serve the Lord and if it's evil in your eyes to serve the Lord choose this day whom you will serve whether the gods your father served in the region beyond the river or the gods of the amorites in who's viewed well, but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord then the people answer far be it from us that we should forsake the Lord to serve other gods for it is the Lord Our God who brought us up and our fathers from the land of Egypt out of the house of slavery and who did these Great Signs in our site and preserve does in the way that we went and among all the people through him. We passed in the Lord drove out from before us all the peoples the amorites who lived in the land therefore we will serve the Lord for he is our God. I love their enthusiasm. The people of Israel are making their New Year's resolution Joshua, even when you're dead and gone. We're still going to serve the Lord. Joshua ever the encouraging leader, but Joshua said to the people you are not able to serve the Lord.
You're not able to serve the Lord. Why? Joshua answers that for he is a jealous God a holy God. He will not forgive your transgressions or your sins. If you forsake the Lord and serve other gods and he will turn and do you harm and consume you after having done you good in the people said to Joshua know but we will serve the Lord then Joshua said to the people you are witnesses against yourself that you have chosen the Lord to serve him and they said we Are Witnesses They have the best of intentions as they make this resolution. We're going to serve the Lord Joshua that says yeah, you're not going to do that Joshua. We're going to serve the Lord and every single person in here who is a Christ follower would say in 2019. I'm going to serve the Lord I'm going to be what God has called me to do 2. I'm going to be what I'm going to do what God has called me to do every single one of us sitting here this morning. That's our intention. We're like the people of Israel. Yeah, we're going to do it. We just reviewed everything that God has done for us. There's no way we would choose to serve any other gods. It's interesting. Wait, we quote that choose you this day whom you serve as if we're choosing between Yahweh or choosing between the false gods. That's not what he's saying. He's saying it is such a no-brainer after you've reviewed what God has done. It's a no-brainer to serve Yahweh. But if for some reason you forget y'all way, then you're going to have to choose which of these false gods you're going to serve. You can have to choose a false deity an idle. And here's the thing that I think is true for so many of us. Christ followers We start with the best of intentions. But we never get rid of the idols. and so we fail Are those resolutions fail? I could want to lose some weight. So I don't have to wear this jacket cuz it's kind of hot in here.
but man I've got candy at the house. My daughter had a birthday. We got cupcakes carrot cake with cream cheese frosting if you're curious. And my best of intentions just aren't going to work. The only way for me to keep with my intention would be to get rid of all of those Temptations, which I'm doing it a product straight. I tell you I'm eating like 3,000 calories of sugar a day.
The best of intentions won't overrule the idols that we allowed to hang around. Does it matter what you want? It's what you see and that's what gets you in trouble. So The Simple Solution is get rid of it get rid of the things that would distract you from God. The people have said we're going to do it and Joshua says, yeah, you're not no no, no trust us. We're going to do it and then he says then take some action. Look at verse 23 of chapter 24 then put away the foreign gods that are among you and incline your heart to the Lord the god of Israel.
Joshua knows the people aren't going to stay faithful because they're still got the idols hanging around. They've still got the false gods and they're saying with their lips. We want to follow God.
Mean while their Idols are at home on the Shelf. Joshua says you never going to follow God until you get rid of the things that distract you from him church. It's the same thing today. You're never going to follow God. You never going to follow Christ the way you're called to until you get rid of the things that would distract you and how do you get rid of things that distract you from God?
You do it. This last week. I watched the video and somebody recommended it to me. It's an old Bob Newhart sketch and it's a counseling. He's a counselor and he's come up with his new way of counseling and and I almost showed the video and then I thought some people might get offended so I decided not to I don't want to offend anybody. So he said I'll just tell you about it. So you don't have to see it. So in the sketch write this lady comes in and and and she's afraid she's got this fear in her life, and she's afraid of being buried alive in a box. And so Bob Newhart's starts with his little counseling sessions. I got here's the way this works McPherson got to cover his building because I bill $5 for the first 5 minutes. And after that, I don't charge anything. The ladies like what's too good to be true? If you've ever been counseling, you know, that's not how counseling works. Okay, but don't worry. We won't even need the first 5 minutes. And so she said he's a guy what's the problem? She tells him her problem and he says right now I've got two words two words for you. But I want you to take out of the office. I want you to incorporate them in your life. Stop it.
Assume that's terrible counseling by the way. I'm sorry. I did that. That's why I didn't show the quick cuz I'm like that's terrible counseling. But it's actually decent advice. We act like somehow we don't have a choice. When we just allow these distractions to hang around. And yet you do have a choice how many of you consider your smartphone is Central to life. How many of you would be willing to give up breathing for your smartphone?
You seek her head and yet I've seen you. Because I've seen me these little things become so addictive and we're like, oh man if it just wasn't for the distractions on my phone. I could Focus On Christ more
That phone is not essential to life. You can actually do this you can get rid of a smartphone and get a dumb phone. They still make them.
Stop it. If a smartphone is keeping you from Christ get rid of it. Get a dumb phone. If your cable subscription is keeping you from Christ, you know, I would read the Bible it but I've got to catch up on the newest season of whatever the shows are current. I have no idea. I've got to catch up on these shows. No, you don't just stop it. Don't do it get rid of the distractions in 2019 and I guarantee you you will get closer to Christ and you've ever been before you will be more fulfilled in what God has given you to do than you ever have before I get rid of the distractions.
And if you're not quite ready to get rid of the smartphone get rid of the TV. We'll put some blocks on there put some limits on it. Did you know if you have an iPhone? I'm sure Android does the same thing. I'm not smart enough to use an Android though. So, I don't know but did you know you can actually tell your phone don't let me get on these apps during these hours. That's really cool. That's a great tool, but you have to turn it on. You have to do it. So review what God has done for you. get rid of the things that just
there you go, except there's one more step the Joshua takes the people of God in verse 24 said to Joshua the Lord Our God, we will serve and his voice we will obey so Joshua made a covenant with the people that day and put in place statutes and rules for them at checking and Joshua wrote these words in the book of The Law of God and he took a large Stone and set it up there under the terebinth. It was by the sanctuary of the Lord and Joshua said to the people behold this Stone shall be a witness against us for it has heard all the words of the Lord that he spoke to us there for it shall be a witness against you lest you with your God. So Joshua sent the people away every man to his inheritance now, they seem strange at first because you know Stones don't have ears. But this is actually a really important step. This is really important because here's the thing that happens. We review all the good things that God has done for us. We get rid of the things that distract us from God. In the very thing we start doing next is what? We start bringing more distractions in. And this is why New Year's resolutions. Don't work for me. Anyways, I can't speak for you. Because no matter how much I'm willing to cut out of my life no matter how much I'm willing to get rid of this little brain of mine. Can't seem to stay focused long enough. I need if I get rid of one distraction a whole bunch of other distractions come in and Kraut in and they demand my attention and pretty soon next thing. You know, I've taken my eyes off of God again.
So what I need you to understand. Is if you want 2019 to be the year that you're the best Christ follower if you want 2019 to be the year in which you discover the purpose for which God made you you cannot do it on your own. You can't and a man up. You can't get rid of enough stuff in that seems kind of contradictory to what I just said, but that that that second thing is important, but it's not enough. Which you need is you need constant reminders and constant reminders about the nature of God's faithfulness and of your commitment to him. That's the third thing surround yourself with reminders.
And if you need to set up a stone under a tree out in front of your house and tell that your commitment like Joshua did with people you could do that or or you could be a little slightly less strange. And put a note on your bathroom mirror. Remember God's faithfulness.
And then because eventually you'll quit looking at that you can put one on the dash of your car. Remember God's faithfulness. And then you can put one on the handle of the fridge remember God's faithfulness. And at least through the first three weeks of January you can put one on the treadmill remember God's faithfulness.
Some notes like that little reminders, but you know, what if you're like me eventually those notes you just going to glance right past them. So you need more than that you go from the notes. And you say you know what I need to hang out with other people who've made the same commitment that I have. I need to hang out with other people who want to remember God's faithfulness. You want to get rid of the things that distract them from God's I want to be around people so that I remember this commitment. There's a great place to do that. It's your home you thought I was going to say Church didn't you? Jokes on you. That's a great place to do that. But this is one hour. every week don't give that up. But recognize you need more than that find a group of people that can gather from meal at your house. The share the commitment that you haven't just talked about the ways that God is working in your life talk about your struggles talk about those things find some friends that you can go grab coffee with find find some people that you can kind of share life with you can text throughout the day who you can give a call whenever you need to find those kind of people right? I think too many times we've settled in this modern world for fake relationships. They don't do anything to remind us of God. Let me ask you a question and this is a pole you have to raise your hand. You could have stayed if you want to How many of you would rather have a thousand Facebook friends?
Or one friends who you know will answer every time you need them Facebook friends. Who wants a real friend? Yeah could call guys. Find somebody who shares your commitment to following Christ and live life with them in a way that reminds you both to see Christ gather with them pray with them those kind of things in 2019 will keep you focused on God will take away your tendency to forget God and remind you continually, I love Jesus.
I love God and what he's done for me is nothing short of amazing your life will change I guarantee it. But more than that more than that is because we know that even that great friend who's always there and sometimes they may not be maybe they're busy you need somebody who's there a little bit more frequently you have access to someone 24/7 who always listens who will always be there for you. Prayer is one of those reminders of God's faithfulness and of your commitment to him. The reason were told to pray is not because we're going to convey new information to God. The reason we're told to pray is so that we will develop a relationship with God use prayer as a reminder to yourself to not lose your focus.
The word of God is given to you as a tool to keep you in relationship with God. It's not given to you so that you can Master Bible trivia. It's not given to you so you can learn a bunch of ancient history that has no bearing whatsoever on your life. The word of God is given to you. So that you can develop and maintain a focus on God that does not Sway With Every distraction that the world wants to throw it to you. These are just some of those tools gather with the people of God on Sundays gather with the people of God in your home. Frey study the word of God. You've been given all these things put some notes around the say remember God's favor is whatever it is in 2019. Just surround yourself with reminders of God's love for you with reminders of God's faithfulness to you with reminders of your commitment to him. now the big question Why does any of that matter? Why does it matter in 2019 if you are the best price follower you can be? Why does it matter if you're doing what God has intended you to do in 2019? Here's why Church. Because you by virtue of being here by virtue of having a Bible by virtue of listening to what I'm saying by virtue of this you are ahead of the majority of the world's population in knowing that there's a God who loves you and who sent his son to die.
You're ahead of the majority of the world. Your life can have meaning and purpose in 2019 because of God's faithfulness, but there is an entire world out there of people who do not have a clue about that. And so the reason why you want 2019 to be the year in which your following Christ wholeheartedly to be the year in which you're doing what God has created you to do is because God intends for you. To share the good gift that he gave with others and God will give you opportunities to engage your community the closer you are with him. The more you're going to be engaged in the things that he wants you to do. The more people who will come to know the hope that you have out in our foyer. We have a board up. It's got three different sections and that is people that we are praying for to hear the gospel that is people that we are sharing the gospel with and that is people that we are discipling teaching to be disciples. And some of you put names up there. Some of you been faithful to pray for those people some of you've been faithful to share. It's encouraging to see some of those notes starting to move across the board. The Reason. God has called you. To follow Christ is to lead others to follow Christ. So in 2019, here's my challenge to you first. Remember all the good things that God has done for you second get rid of the things that would distract you from God. Third surround yourself with reminders of your commitment to Christ and fourth go and tell others about the hope that we have through Jesus. Let's pray.