CLOSING ON CORNER LOT
(Start with Renovation Church Logo)
Good morning! How’s everybody doing?
My name is David Sorn, and I’m the Lead Pastor here at Renovation Church.
Before we get into our passage this morning, I want to update you on something exciting.
(Corner Lot slide)
I know a ton of you are new from even in the last month or 2, but back in June, we announced that the Corner Lot immediately north of us (where the Shell Gas Station used to be…in purple on the screen) had unexpectedly become available.
That was huge.
Because we knew that we were going to be up to 100 parking spots short when we need to add on to this building.
And this Corner Lot property would allow us to build all of the extra parking spaces we need at that time.
However, in order to purchase that Corner Lot at 1.3 million dollars, we needed to raise a down payment of $300,000 very quickly (before someone else moved on it)
The people of Renovation Church were incredibly generous, and we raised just over $400,000 to put down.
I’m happy to announce that we will be closing on that property on TUESDAY of this week, and so in about 48 hours, we will officially own it!
Thank you again for your amazing generosity.
God is going to use it!
Our mission is to follow Jesus and to help others do the same.
And this is going to allow for even more people to follow Jesus.
INTRODUCTION TO PASSAGE
(Joshua Series Slide)
All right, this summer as a church we’ve been studying the Book of Joshua in the Old Testament.
Joshua is the story of how God’s people, the Israelites, entered the Promised Land.
Go ahead and grab a Bible
BY the way if you don’t have a Bible, please take this one with you!
Today, in chapter 23, we see Joshua giving a speech toward the end of his life.
So this is 25-30 25-30 years after all of the other stories we’ve studied this summer.
We’re going to start reading at verse 6 today.
In the first 5 verses (which you can read later), Joshua begins his speech by reminding the Israelites that it was the Lord who fought for them and blessed them with Promised Land
And Joshua urges them to continue to drive out the Canaanites before the Canaanites lure them into sin and away from the One True God.
HOLD FAST (v. 6-8)
(Joshua 23:6-8) – NIV
6 “Be very strong; be careful to obey all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, without turning aside to the right or to the left. 7 Do not associate with these nations that remain among you; do not invoke the names of their gods or swear by them. You must not serve them or bow down to them. 8 But you are to hold fast to the Lord your God, as you have until now.
Okay, let’s break this down.
(Title Slide: Hold Fast)
Look at verse 6.
Joshua reminds them of what God told them (in chapter 1 actually) before they entered the land some 25 years ago: Be careful to obey ALL of God’s Word
Because they are absolutely going to be tempted to live like everyone else around them.
And so Joshua pleads with them in verse 8.
Look at verse 8 again.
This is the central point of this chapter.
Joshua tells them to “hold fast” to the Lord your God.
To “hold fast” means to cling to, to cleave to, to grab on to
It’s often used in literature when waters are raging, and it means to “hold tight,” and “hold on”
I had the following word picture in my head this week as I was studying the passage
Think of floodwaters, like in a hurricane, when streets are being flooded with fast-moving waters
And imagine a large, and tall rock in one of the neighborhoods.
One could “hold fast” to the top of a large rock as the current of floodwaters raged by, and if they did that, they would live.
And Joshua tells the Israelites, they were to hold fast to God and his teachings.
As Christians with the New Testament, we get an even fuller and more beautiful picture of this as we’re told that Jesus Christ, God’s Son, is our rock.
And we are to hold on to him and not let the cultural floodwaters around us drag us away.
And so Joshua warns the people of God in verse 7: “Do not invoke the names of their gods, or swear by them, don’t serve them, don’t bow down to them.
For many of us today, the temptation isn’t (yet anyway) to follow a different god, but it’s to follow the idols of the culture.
And while there have always been cultural waters that try to get American Christians off the rock of Christ, I believe the current of our cultural waters is changing…
50 years ago, the cultural waters around Christian believers might have been more like a sleepy creek.
Lulling Christians into thinking they were saved by just going to church like everyone else in America, so no need to be a “Jesus freak” or anything like that…
…just do your duty, go to church, and live like everyone else.
But times have certainly changed.
Now the cultural waters around us aren’t lulling us into lukewarmness, they now lap against us like floodwaters racing through the street
If you want to be an actual follower of Jesus Christ now, and you want to “Put God First” (as one of Core Values says)…
…then, today, you’re going to feel the pressure of the current, as it feels like seemingly everyone else in the culture is going the other way
Let me give you several different types of examples of different cultural currents pushing against those who want to hold fast to the rock of putting God first.
But before I do let me warn you that some of these examples may be pretty challenging
I find that a lot of American Christians are fairly unaware of just how deeply they are already swimming in the cultural waters.
And because of the nature of this, I have to give you examples where MANY (if not MOST!) of us are doing that, and thus these are issues where Christianity intersects more painfully with our culture-at-large because living as a disciple in these areas is SO against the current.
And so at some of these examples, you’re going to say, “Amen pastor! Finally a pastor that’s willing to preach the truth!”
And then, I’m going to give the next one, and you’re going to say, “David, Michael, Sorn…. I’m so mad at you. I can’t stand you”
And so can we just agree, as Christians who respect God’s Word, that we’re going to be open to being challenged by it?
Can we agree to that?
Alright, lets talk Youth Sports.
Hey, You agreed!
Okay, so what if you want your kid to play sports or be in an activity and still make Jesus a priority?
How do you do that?
I’m not saying your kids shouldn’t play sports, but I am pointing out that parents are constantly forced to make a choice…to prioritize their commitment to continual spiritual growth for themselves and their kids…
OR to prioritize their commitment to the athletic team.
And so many American Christians prioritize the activity
And that’s happening, in part, because it feels like basically every single human being in our culture is moving along that current!
And, I think, deep down, we worry about our kids missing out!
I gotta get them started early, they gotta do traveling…they gotta
We don’t want them to miss out.
I want all the Christian parents in the room to look at me.
Your job as a Christian parent is to think long-term for your kids.
Don’t think about the next 10 years, think about the next 100, and next 100 million.
Be more worried about your kids missing out on “the kingdom of heaven,” than missing out on varsity sports.
But this is hard.
Holding fast on the flooded street named Youth Sports and Activities, it’s really hard!
If you’re going to live differently, and you’re going to say, “No, if there’s any conflict, God will always come first”
I’m not saying “Be a legalist. I’m saying, “if you’re saying our hearts are first and foremost for Jesus, we love him…then live this way…”
If you’re going to say, “No, I want to give my kids as many opportunities as possible to meet & fall in love with Jesus, so that will always come first”
Because that’s thinking about the next 100 years out, not just the next ten!
And so Biblically discipling your children, may cause you to have to reprioritize a few things…maybe change how deep you go into the youth sports vortex.
And that may cause some of your friends and neighbors to question you.
But you hold fast to what God is calling you to do.
It was just as hard for Joshua’s listeners in chapter 23.
Because EVERYONE around the Israelites was living a different way. EVERYONE.
But he says, but you, you hold fast.
Your life aim isn’t to look like everyone else anyway…it’s to glorify God.
Let’s look to a different street.
What about something as simple as how you relax in the evening as a modern-day American?
Have you scrolled through the menus of any of the streaming services lately?
It seems there is hardly a show without a scene of nudity or one that is laced with profanity…or worse.
All things we’re told to not even have a “hint of” in our lives as we imitate the life of Christ
Things we are to avoid if we’re taking verse 6 seriously, and we obey our God at everything He’s written.
But for most Christians…we worship here on Sunday morning and say, “Lord, I give you my life, all of it! But not what I watch on Netflix from 8 to 10pm each night”
And that’s happening in part because the cultural current on “entertainment street” is SO strong, that to hold fast to the rock there…
To be selective in what you watch
To cancel your subscriptions (as Jesus says if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out)…
To do any of those things, feels very, VERY counter cultural.
You’re not going with the flow.
But HOLD FAST.
If your heart is for Jesus, then you HOLD FAST!
God’s ways are better.
Do you believe that God’s ways are better?
Then you gotta believe it even if no one else does.
I mean, maybe it’s not sports or entertainment for you (like it is for most of us), but where would you say you are tempted to let go of God’s ways and trust the culture right now?
It’s hard to hold to the Rock of Christ when everyone’s going the other way.
Let’s look to one more street where the cultural floodwaters are pressing hard against the rock.
I walked into target in Blaine this week and saw this display
(Show Photo of a display sign that says “College Essentials”)
Here’s a display that says “College Essentials”
And categorized here under “College Essentials,” you see a display of condoms…and the other side included more items to help you sleep around and pursue hook-up culture in college.
This is the floodwaters of the culture.
If you’re a young person…many of you are in high school.
Some of you are going back to college this week or next, or you just got back.
Even if you’re a single young adult, but you’re a follower of Jesus, and you’re saying, “No, I follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. I believe sex is something God has reserved for marriage, and there, and there only, it is a glorious gift to us”
Then, yes, you know, maybe even better than your parents or grandparents could ever know, that the floodwaters of culture are raging against you as a believer in God on this particular street.
This is no longer, just 25% of young adults in the culture who are tempting the rest with their wild and promiscuous life.
The cultural current is moving so fast that now the local store where people shop for clothes and groceries… is telling you, “Hook-up culture is a normal and ESSENTIAL part of your growing up”
But to the young people in the room, I say, “You Hold fast”
You cling to the wisdom of the Creator
Not to the ever-changing waters of the culture.
The waters will rage and the waters will rise…
But you, you cling to the rock.
Let’s keep reading his Holy Word
A DEFEATED ENEMY
(Joshua 23:9-11) – NIV
9 “The Lord has driven out before you great and powerful nations; to this day no one has been able to withstand you. 10 One of you routs a thousand, because the Lord your God fights for you, just as he promised. 11 So be very careful to love the Lord your God.
(Title Slide: Hold Fast)
Joshua says, “The Lord has driven out these nations.”
They are defeated and on the run.
God fought for you and showed you victory.
And so Joshua is saying to the Israelites, “Why would you EVER begin to follow these pagan gods? They’re not real. They’re worthless. They’ve been defeated!”
And so listen to me, it may be that everyone around you right now, at school, at work, even in your family…is flowing right down the road with the cultural current.
But don’t let be you.
You HOLD FAST.
Because there is no point in you worshipping a false god that has been defeated, and will be ultimately defeated in the end!
They may even mock you for holding fast to that rock while they all float down the street on the floodwaters…
But let me tell you where the floodwaters go, they go down the street, and eventually they go down the drain.
And so will every cultural idea that is not of Christ.
One day our Lord will come back, or you will die and meet him face to face…
And on that day, when your next part of eternity begins…you will feel no shame…NO SHAME…that everybody else floated by…you held to the Rock.
Because the ROCK is the judge, not the culture.
A PROMISE AND A WARNING
Let’s keep reading as Joshua then speaks of a promise and a warning
(Joshua 23:12-16) – NIV
12 “But if you turn away and ally yourselves with the survivors of these nations that remain among you and if you intermarry with them and associate with them, 13 then you may be sure that the Lord your God will no longer drive out these nations before you. Instead, they will become snares and traps for you, whips on your backs and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from this good land, which the Lord your God has given you.
14 “Now I am about to go the way of all the earth. You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the Lord your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed. 15 But just as all the good things the Lord your God has promised you have come to you, so he will bring on you all the evil things he has threatened, until the Lord your God has destroyed you from this good land he has given you. 16 If you violate the covenant of the Lord your God, which he commanded you, and go and serve other gods and bow down to them, the Lord’s anger will burn against you, and you will quickly perish from the good land he has given you.”
(Title Slide: Hold Fast)
Okay, let’s start with verse 12.
It says, “But IF…you turn away an ally yourselves w/ the other nations...”
What’s interesting here is that the word for ally in the original language of Hebrew…is the exact same Hebrew word that was translated “Hold fast” in verse 8.
And so God is saying that what starts as a little “toe dipping in the cultural waters,” usually ends up with a clinging, a holding fast to the world.
And verse 13 explains this.
Look at it.
He said that these nations that worship false gods, at first they will become a snare, or a trap…
And then what?
The snare and a trap become the whip and a thorn.
This is the story of a hundred legends and fairy tales throughout history.
It’s little red riding hood thinking she’s talking with her favorite grandmother, only to have walked into a trap”
And it’s us thinking about how hard it is to hold on the rock while the cultural waters rage against us, and we start to believe that it would just be easier to let go, and float down w/ everyone else…
But before you do so, count the long-term cost of letting go!
And here we come face to face with the teaching of the ENTIRE book of Joshua
This is verse 14.
I love this.
Joshua says, “You know (you KNOW!) that not one of God’s promises has failed.
He did everything He promised He would do if they trusted Him.
Every last thing!
His promises never fail.
Church, has God been good to you?
Do you trust His promises?
Then Joshua says, don’t just trust His promises, trust His warnings.
Joshua warns them that if they forsake God’s ways, then they must know that they will no longer experience the benefit of God’s ways
And instead, in God’s discipline, they will experience the pain of getting bounced around in the floodwaters…and gasping for air.
And indeed that is what much of the next book of the bible, the Book of Judges, is about.
It is folly, it is foolishness to play around with the warnings of God.
Our American church has become so over-focused on God’s love and mercy, that we our ignorant of God’s teachings on this.
We think, “I’ll just watch what I want, live my schedule how I want, and make the choices I want, treat people like I want, and God still loves me”
If you truly are a Christian, and his child, surely He does love you, and care for you, but that doesn’t mean you won’t face his discipline for such callousness.”
If my child acted like that, “I’ll do what I want and treat people how I want, and act out like I want, because my dad loves me anyway…”
I do, but because I love them, I’m going to discipline them, because I want them to learn from the folly of their ways.
And so hear me, as your pastor, as a herald and teacher of God’s Word
Do not test God in this.
Do not say, “The culture is moving so fast in this, everyone else is doing this, and it’s too hard to hold on to the rock…God will love me anyway, so I’ll let go”
No, YOU HOLD FAST
This is the fear of the Lord that the Bible speaks so often about, and we teach so little about today
If we believe His Words are true and that His way is really better, than believe it. Honor it. Respect it.
And these words are true for you even if you are not yet a follower of Jesus Christ.
Maybe you feel like you’ve been tossed around by life and its currents.
And you don’t know where to go.
Or maybe now you realized that living how you wanted never gave you the freedom or life you were looking for anyway.
Come to the rock.
Come to safety.
Come to forgiveness.
This is what you were made for.
Not to just be pushed along the latest cultural current with everyone else, but to know God.
And to walk in the goodness of His ways.
Did you know that He loves you?
He came for you.
He is here right now!
And He is reaching His hand out to you.
And He did so by sending his Son Jesus to die on the cross for you.
And if you would believe that Jesus died in your place, God would take the just punishment that was meant for you and your sins, and put it onto Jesus on the cross.
And you will be declared not guilty
And besides that, when you call out for Him, and you say, “Jesus, I believe, save me (I’m drowning!), save me from my sins”
He will grab your hand from the floodwaters and save you.
And you will then not only be saved, but get to have a relationship with Him, where you can know Him personally, and have eternal life here and now in heaven for ever, and not in hell.
And so the question is, “Do you need to grab his hand…to believe that He died for you…and invite Him to be the leader of your life”
If you do, what I want you to do, as a way of reaching out to Him, is to walk forward during this last song
(call band up and pray)
(If people come forward….)
The Bible tells us that in this moment we believe in our hearts and confess with our mouths.
Repeat after me
I confess to you, that I have sinned against you.
But God I believe, that you sent your Son Jesus, to take my place
And God I thank you, for forgiving my sins.
And now I commit, to following you, with my life.
All right, for those of you that made this decision, hang out here for a few minutes, as I want to give you some important next steps.
For everyone else, have a great week, and please, pick up an oar and stop by the Family Fun Day table in the Lobby to sign up to serve that day!
Copyright: Josh Pollard
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
You may use this material all you like! We only ask that you do not charge a fee and that you quote the source and not say it is your own.