06 Following the Lord

Bill Serjak

This is a message from pastor and teacher Bill Serjak from the Joshua series “New Beginnings”

Following the Lord
Joshua 5:1-15

The Jews had been wandering in the wilderness for forty years and now the Promised Land was just across the Jordan River. God backed up the water of the river and they crossed on dry land. They were ready to begin the battles to conquer the land, but the first thing they did was to circumcise the whole army. Militarily, that did not make much sense because it made their whole army totally vulnerable for several days. However, they did not put their trust in their military strength; they put their trust in God and God required that each Jew be circumcised. To put themselves in right order with God, they needed to be circumcised.
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05 Remember!

Bill Serjak

This is a message from pastor and teacher Bill Serjak from the Joshua series “New Beginnings”

Remember!
Joshua 4:1-24

The story in this text is so powerful that I almost hate to make comments on it, but I will. I’d like to start with the last verse that says, “He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God.” This story is to be told so the nations of the world would know that the power of God is with the Jews and so the Jews would fear the Lord. God’s people are always supposed to have a fear of the Lord. However, I think that fear is practically gone today. We are more prone to worship idols and even try to turn God into an idol. Idols are helpful because we can make them in the way we choose and have them do our bidding. We may tell the idol to bless our crops and the idol may require certain sacrifices from us, but we are the ones who determine what he should do. We don’t have to do the idol’s bidding; he is supposed to do ours. That conveniently leaves us with being the real god. We like that position. We don’t have to fear the idol because we control him.
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04 The Ark of the Lord

Bill Serjak

This is a message from pastor and teacher Bill Serjak from the Joshua series “New Beginnings”

The Ark of the Lord
Joshua 3:1-17

The events in this chapter began when Moses led the Jews out of slavery in Egypt. God parted the waters of the Red Sea so they could leave Egypt on dry land. Then, God closed in the waters and drowned the Egyptian army that pursued them. The Jews then wandered in the wilderness for forty years. They did not wander that long because they got lost. The Jews who came out of Egypt were so tied to that land and perhaps even to their slavery that they were constantly grumbling against Moses and God. However, in these early chapters of Joshua, God tells Joshua what to do and Joshua tells the people. This was a new group of Jews who began the conquest of the Promised Land. When they hear what they are to do, they don’t grumble but set out doing it. God solved the grumbling problem by just waiting forty years until the all grumblers had died off. That may have been a drastic measure. If the Jews who wandered had begun to have faith, they could have gone into the Promised Land, but they never did. The old had to die so new leadership who would trust God would come.
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03 A Fearsome People

Bill Serjak

This is a message from pastor and teacher Bill Serjak from the Joshua series “New Beginnings”

A Fearsome People
Joshua 2:1-24

Did you ever wonder why God told Joshua to send the spies into Jericho? Their information would not be needed because God would miraculously make the walls of Jericho fall down and the city would be defeated by God’s direct power. They didn’t even have a battle plan that new information would help. The only reason I can guess for sending the spies was so the Jews would know about Rahab. Rahab had become different from the others in the city who worshiped Molech, the god of infant sacrifice. Molech was a horrible god and his idea of good and evil had become the standard for the people of the land. That evil was so deeply ingrained in the people that God had order them destroyed so their evil would not be passed on to the Jews and others in the land. However, Rahab had come to believe in God and told the spies, “. . .the LORD your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.” When Rahab came to believe that about God, the Lord sent spies from the Jews to find her and rescue her from the coming destruction.
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02 We’re In This Together

Bill Serjak

This is a message from pastor and teacher Bill Serjak from the Joshua series “New Beginnings”

We’re In This Together
Joshua 1:10-18

Last week, I mentioned the adage that the Old Testament is The Picture Book for Baby Believers. As we study this section of Joshua, we need to look at the pictures and see what they show us about God’s character and how He works with His people. As we look at God’s people, they are on the east side of the Jordan River and must first cross the river to conquer the land they have been promised. At this time, Joshua told the officers to get ready because in three days they would cross the Jordan and begin the conquest of the land. It is interesting to note that they don’t appear to have any idea as to how they would cross this fairly large river. They don’t have any boats and the river is too deep to ford. There we’re any bridges anywhere in this area. Yet, they were making plans to cross the river in three days. They were making preparations to do what did not seem possible. I suppose God told Joshua what He was going to do but we don’t know that He had before they made preparations. The Hebrew leaders had to operate completely on faith without knowing how they would accomplish what they were supposed to do. They didn’t even have a battle plan as to how they would conquer the land if they ever did cross the river.
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01 Introduction to Joshua… Be Strong and Courageous

Bill Serjak

This is a message from pastor and teacher Bill Serjak from the Joshua series “New Beginnings”

Be Strong and Courageous
Joshua 1:1-9

God did not give the people of Israel a land that was there for the taking. He gave them a land to conquer. God promised them the land and said that He would lead them through Joshua, but they had hard and dangerous work to do to conquer the land. They needed to be totally involved in God’s plan. At this point, they were at the edge of the Jordan River and ready to enter the Promised Land. God told the people not only to conquer the land, but to slay all the inhabitants. In the twenty-first century, it is hard for us to swallow that God would require the Jews to slay all the inhabitants. More

Commitment: An Exercise in Love

Bill SerjakDevotional Writings

“By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:35). We become Christians in a very personal way. Individually, we put faith in what Jesus did on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins and invite Jesus into our lives to begin a personal relationship to Him. However, it doesn’t stop there. We are not known to be Christ’s disciples by how much faith we have in Christ’s death on the cross or how close our personal relationship is to Him. According to John 13:35, all men know Christians to be disciples of Jesus because we have learned to love each other. We receive Jesus Christ individually, but, once we do that, we find ourselves as a part of the Church. The growth in our faith does not come from only understanding more of who Jesus is, but primarily from learning to love the others in the body of Christ. That isn’t easy. Those of us who follow Jesus aren’t as easy to love as He is. Some of us may be the very people you would try to avoid, except for the fact that you keep running into us in church on Sunday. Nothing stretches us in our growth as disciples more than learning to love other Christians.

Some people stunt their growth as Christians by not becoming deeply involved with a group of God’s people. They just keep attending a church until something happens that they don’t like, then they move on to another church, hoping to find one that will operate the way they like. According to I Corinthians 13:4, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.” Paul goes on to list other things that define love. If in the church we always saw things alike, we would never have to exercise our love. If we never exercised our love, we would not grow as disciples of Christ. It is important to be a part of a church, not only for the support we receive, but also for how working together stretches our ability to love. That is the best reason I know for joining a church rather than just attending. Joining a church causes us to make a commitment to a group of Christians and that commitment holds us together and forces us to learn to love each other even when it would be much easier to just go somewhere else. That is also why we make a commitment in marriage. Commitments force us exercise our love.

God’s Grace and Niceness

Bill SerjakDevotional Writings

Christian Smith, the Stuart Chapin Distinguished Professor and Associate Chair in the sociology department at the University of North Carolina recently conducted a survey on the religious beliefs of teenagers. Many surveys have been done on today’s teens but most were about how to sell products to them. Dr. Smith’s survey may have been the first to study what teens believed about God. They interviewed over 300 teens from across the country and carefully documented each interview. The results were remarkable and have been published by Dr. Smith in a recent book called Soul Searching.

After the data was compiled, Dr. Smith found that the religious beliefs of teens are remarkably similar. Most believe that God exists, that He was the creator and has ordered the universe, that we understand the world because it has been ordered by God. The purpose of life is to be nice, good, and pleasant. They believe that good people go to heaven and almost everyone is good. They see the goal of life as being personal happiness. They view God as a cosmic therapist and divine butler. They don’t go to God unless they are in trouble. When they do go to Him, He acts as their therapist or gets them the things they need. After that, He just quietly goes away and does not stay involved in their lives. The survey found these beliefs to be remarkably consistent across denominational lines. Even Muslim teens held pretty much the same beliefs. The teens had very little content to their faith. When Dr. Smith did a computer word search to find out how many times teens used the word grace in their responses, he found that most used it in referring to the TV show Will and Grace and hardly any used it in a theological way. You might wonder where teens got these heretical beliefs. Is there some conspiracy to lead teens away from the tenets of their faith? The survey showed that the teens primarily got their beliefs from their parents.

When thinking about this, I have to agree that those are the dominant beliefs of the people in our culture. Folks will talk about spirituality and even about God but few will talk about Jesus, because that is too particular. That would imply that Jesus is the way to God and other ways are wrong, and that isn’t nice. It is no wonder why few people share their faith. If the primarily goal of life is to be nice, sharing faith in Christ might be interpreted by many as not being very nice. To be a biblical Christian in today’s world, one of the first obstacles to overcome is the need to be nice. If the Apostle Paul were dropped down into today’s world, most would not think he was very nice. I don’t think even Jesus would pass the niceness test. According to the Bible, many nice people will end up in hell. If this bothers you, it may well be that your belief system is the same as that of today’s teens. We go to heaven when we admit ourselves to be sinners and trust that Jesus’ death on the cross paid for our sins. That is called God’s grace. That seems to be a very hard thing for today’s people to believe. It is still true.

In Beginning Intro: Welcome Church / A Genesis Prologue

Bill Serjak

This is a message from pastor and teacher Bill Serjak from the Genesis series “In Beginning”

In Beginning 01: The Beginning

Bill Serjak

This is a message from pastor and teacher Bill Serjak from the Genesis series “In Beginning”

The Beginning
Genesis 1:1-5

When we studied the Bible in seminary, we began with the twelfth chapter of Genesis with God’s calling of Abraham to become a great nation. We studied how the Jews came together as a nation and then later how the Christian Church was formed. Unfortunately, there are eleven chapters that come earlier in Genesis and I think they lay important groundwork for understanding the rest of the book.
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