(This is Part of my current 3 Part Sermon Series I’m calling Everybody! Next week I’ll share the third, and final installment. Click Everybody Has A Past to read the first.)
Everybody Has A Present! Joshua 24:14-15 (N.L.T.)
We’re in Week 2 of 3 of the series that I’m calling Everybody. The Theme Verse of this series is Galatians 3:28—“There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.” The Holy Spirit is inspiring this series because we live in a culture that divides people into groups. Us and them. We and they. Those people! These have become the iconic words of our culture. Black Lives Matter. White Lives Matter. Blue Lives Matter. Red States. Blue States. Republicans. Democrats. Socialists.
Such are the words that describe this Fractious And Fractured culture called the United States. This spirit of division is fueling fear and hate—and it’s leading us deeper and deeper into chaos. Remember that it’s not always been like this. In the beginning, it was an “Everybody”. In the beginning, God designed life to be lived, experienced and celebrated TOGETHER! Together with Him. Together with the world. Together with each other. That’s how the Image, His Image looked in the beginning. But this “Everybody That Was Together” was shattered when Adam and Eve made their tragic decision to be their own god.
But God longs to bring us back together—back to being EVERYBODY. Throughout time, God has been seeking to bring us back together. The Kingdom of God is all about bringing the “Everybody” back into His Design.
Though we are Fractious And Fractured, there is still Everybody. Everybody has 3 conditions in common. Everybody Has A Past. Everybody Has A Present. And Everybody Has A Future. And here’s the 1 thing you need to remember:
Your Present Will Either Echo Your Fears Or Express Your Hope.
The Scripture this morning is all about echoing fears or expressing hope. It comes from Joshua 24:14-15 (NLT)
14 “So fear the Lord and serve him wholeheartedly. Put away forever the idols your ancestors worshiped when they lived beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord alone. 15 But if you refuse to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.”
This particular passage has been applied to the thought that God wants us to have Christian families. All kinds of pictures and wall plaques have been manufactured and sold. Now, don’t misunderstand me. God does want Christian Families. Christian families are the most important battle formation in God’s fight to reclaim what Satan took away from Him in the Garden.
But, if you would indulge me, I would like to give you a lesson in good, solid biblical exegesis. Oh, that big word like Mahogany—exegesis. Exegesis means to study in ways that helps understand a passage so that we can find ways to apply it to our lives.
Now, you certainly can apply these words of Joshua to you home, family, kids, grandkids and so on. BUT. . .before you can do that, you need to understand the original setting. Joshua has been leading them in the conquest of The Promised Land. They’ve occupied most of the territory, but there’s still work to be done. And Joshua is getting old. This is his retirement announcement.
He’s not going to be around much longer—so they need to decide what they are going to do now. Keeping walking with God in the present moment, or go back to some point in their past. It’s about choice. This is a defining moment for them.
In this moment, this defining moment, what are they going to do? Joshua has made his own decision. Joshua understands the importance of the Present. He’s made his decision. Now they have to decide—make their own decision.
I realize not everyone has had equal opportunities. Not everyone has had a wonderful family background—not everyone has had a good past. Bad choices were made. Unfair situations happened to them. But. . .we can allow the past to make us its captive—or—we can use it as a classroom where we learn to mold a new future. And that New Future begins with The Present!
As with Joshua, our Present is all about The Covenant With God and What He Is Doing. Just as at the foot of the Cross, we are all equal, so it is with The Present. Everyone of us has The Present—it contains 60 seconds in a minute—60 minutes in an hour—and 24 hours in a day. It’s the same for everyone. How you choose to spend this time—what you choose for The Present—is your own decision.
Everybody needs The Present. The Present is for everybody because some need a fresh start, all of us need to adjust our course and we all need to live out our true purpose. Let’s look at each of these reasons.
- The Present Is For Those Who Need A Fresh Start
Sometimes we have made such a mess of our lives a remodel won’t do the trick. Sometimes we have made such a mess of our lives an upgrade won’t do the trick. A fresh coat of paint won’t work.
There are times in our life when no amount of tweaking will be enough. It may be bad choices, lots of bad choices. It may be that we’ve been hurt so deeply that the grudges have caused bitterness to take root and grow like kudzu. There are lots of reasons why some of us need a Fresh Start. And the Grace for that Fresh Start is available now—in the Present. Now, I’m not saying that there may not be grace for you in the future—because grace is always there for us. But. . .but there’s no guarantee that you will have that future. Grace works in the Present—it’s made for the here and now.
And when you look at others—remember! Remember that their past is not so horrendous that God doesn’t have a fresh start for them. God’s grace is all about a fresh start for anyone and everyone. Grace isn’t reserved for the brightest and best. It’s for the least, the last and the lost. Here in the present, we remember that it is never too late for God’s grace for anyone. We need to stop judging people by their politics, their addictions, or anything with their outward appearances. God can use anyone and everyone.
He used a dishonest tax collector to write a Gospel. He used an unstable fisherman to be a leader in the very first churches. He used a murderer and hater of Gentiles to be the one HE sent to the Gentiles. Look at the genealogy of Jesus. He used a prostitute to be the great-great grandmother of Jesus. He used Jonah to show grace to the Ninevites, even though Jonah didn’t want to go, and even hated that God showed mercy and grace to the Ninevites. That person you look down own, has a Present—This moment for God to give them a fresh start. Stop judging others on their past. Know that God has a Fresh Start—with their name on it. And who knows, there may come a day when in your life, YOU need a fresh start. The Present is for those who need a Fresh Start.
- The Present Is For Those Who Need To Adjust Their Course
I remember reading this years ago from Chuck Swindol—I don’t remember which book—but I remember what he wrote: “Believing we are right, we can be wrong. Thinking that we are hitting the mark, we can miss it by a mile.” While else would David write in Psalm 139:23-24—23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. 24 Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.
Can I be honest with you? This is about me. I have learned more about God, about this relationship with Him, and about His design for my life in the last 15 years than I learned in the first 47 years of my life combined. I now know it all started in that moment when I was broken. And I know I still need some more course adjustments.
David points out 3 things in Psalm 139:23-24—
- We don’t know everything about our hearts. If so why did David invite God to dive deep into his heart? Test me. Know what makes me anxious. Like when we’re taking a trip and there’s a blocked road or detour—the GPS does this thing called “recalculating”. We need that for our hearts as well.
- We all have blind spots. David asked God to point out anything that was offensive to God. Why? Blind spots. Sin has this sneaky characteristic of slowly changing our thoughts—changing them to beliefs and attitudes that are not those of God. We need that course correction when we become blind to our own sinful ways. They are called Blind Spots for a reason: We can’t see them, but HE can.
- We don’t know it all. David asked God to lead him along the path of everlasting life. David knew he couldn’t get there by himself. He needed a Guide. The Holy Spirit is with us to help us get to where God wants us to be.
Remember what Paul said in Romans 8:14— For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. The leader is out front, making those adjustments in the course so that we can reach the goal of holiness in this life in Grace. And the last thing:
- We All Need The Present To Live Out Our True Purpose.
What I am about to say, may upset someone–but just hang with me and listen to the whole thought:
Jesus didn’t die on the Cross just to get you into Heaven. He saved us to get Heaven into us and into this world right now.
Right now, in The Present, is where we live out our true purpose. And true purpose is live and love in ways that makes God real to each other—and to the world.
You can’t put off the work of the Kingdom of God. It’s for here and now. God has a plan, a purpose and the Power for your life. You can’t put off doing what God wants done now. Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:10—For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. It means we begin now, in the present moment.
We all have the Present. Your present will either echo your fears or express your hope. Everyone Can Make A Difference Beginning Now, In The Present—YOUR Present!
Here are your Next Steps:
- Everybody Has A Choice With What To Do Right Now. You can follow Jesus, get closer to Jesus, or not. . .
- Everyone Can Make A Difference Beginning Now. If you know anything about Jesus, if you’ve given Him your heart and life, you already have enough to make a difference now. And by doing it now, you can make a bigger difference down the road.
DEFINING OUR FUTURE, which we are going to talk about next week, begins with The Present. The Future isn’t what you wait for—it’s what you develop and work towards in The Present. You Have The Present To Change Your Future! The Present Is For Those Who Want To Have A Future Of Hope.