Sunday, July 14, 2019

Sermon Starters: Moments of Choice

Date: July 14, 2019
Location: Silver Lake Wesleyan Camp

  • The movie Casablanca. The writers themselves didn't know how it was going to end. Will Rick go off with Ilsa? (probably not because of the censors) Will he get arrested by Renault? 
  • [I've dabbled enough with novel writing to recognize that story lines end up taking on a life of their own. The characters--if they are created well--take o.n a life of their own. It's almost as if they come to have free will.]
  • We get to the critical moment. Rick has killed a Nazi. What will Renault do?
  • Life is full of moments of choice, and it is then that the strength of our faith is most demonstrated. Sometimes we ourselves don't know if we will make the right choice, but God is ever faithful--we can! And there is forgiveness if we truly repent of any failure.
  • Text: Joshua 24:1-7, 11, 13-15
  • Israel has not always made the right choice. There was that calf thing. There was that forty years in the desert thing. But they have finally made it into the Promised Land. They have conquered Jericho and possessed the land.
  • Who will they serve? Joshua isn't optimistic, but he makes his choice clear. They also make the right choice. "We will serve the LORD!"
1. We all have a lifetime decision to make.
  • Have you ever really thought about what a God is? Not like Loki in Avengers. I've been treated very nicely this week. What if Justin Trudeau was visiting here? Even if you don't like him, how would he be treated if he visited camp? In the States, what if President Trump came to your church (he did one in Virginia)? They treated him with respect regardless of their politics.
  • God is beyond anything we can compare. He is not someone we can be neutral about. At some point, we pick a side. Are we going to live for ourselves or for something greater? Are we going to live for good and others or for ourselves? Are we going to live for truth or for what suits me?
  • Most of us here have already made a declaration of our allegiance to God over all else--over ourselves, over our countries, over our families. And of course this choice benefits us, our countries, and our families. We often declare this choice at our baptism.
  • Indiana Jones and the Holy Grail - "It's time to decide what you believe."
  • Perhaps there are some who at some moment come to realize they have passed from death to life but they cannot tell you exactly when it happened (Wesley used the analogy of dying for this). But your allegiance to God is clear enough now.
  • Are there individuals who are committed to God but don't fully understand? God knows.
  • The Parable of the Prodigal Son makes it clear that you can always come back if you have gone astray in your allegiance. The Father will welcome you back with open arms, running out to meet you.
2. We have a daily decision to make.
  • Our choice for God is an eternal choice. Imagine if you got married and then said to your spouse, "Well, that was a nice ceremony. See ya!" Choosing God is like marrying Christ. He'd like to see you every once and a while!
  • Hebrews 3:13; 4:1, 7, 11 - we need to enter into the promised land every day called today
  • Running - you don't run a race if you haven't been training
  • Creating paths in our psyches - deciding where the sidewalks should go at IWU
  • "Motion brings emotion."
  • Ways to create paths - daily prayer, daily Scripture, weekly worship, communion...
  • Don't think of these as duties (Amy Farrah Fowler and God taking attendance) but as part of our marriage relationship with Christ
3. We have moment by moment decisions to make.
  • What really sparked this message. Twix commercial. Sometimes I rehearse conversations. It's not always pretty. (Beware of Matthew 5) Emails you receive. Maybe something on Facebook. Maybe watching media in some form.
  • We are often faced with a choice--how are we going to react to something?
  • James 1:13-15 - temptation is not yet sin
  • Harry Potter and Sedrick Diggery - "For a moment there I thought you weren't going to save me." "For I moment there I didn't think so either."
Some suggestions when you are tempted to make the wrong choice:
  • press pause - don't respond immediately (delay on email, come back to Facebook later (a soft answer turns away wrath)
  • remove yourself from the situation (WS, KD)
  • pray
  • listen to that gnawing feeling inside (JD)
  • Seek the counsel of others (and don't be like Ahab) 
  • Train for that moment
  • Are you going to show up when the moment comes?
  • Illustration