“Joshua People: Turning Worlds Upside Down”

(Joshua 10:12-15, Acts 17:1-9)

 

Rev. Billy D. Strayhorn

INTRODUCTION:

      I want to start with two passages of Scripture. The first from the book of Joshua since we are still in our Joshua Principles Series. And the second from the book of Acts because it describes the early ministry of the Church and what our ministry should be like.

Joshua 10:12-15 (NRSV)
[12] On the day when the Lord gave the Amorites over to the Israelites, Joshua spoke to the Lord; and he said in the sight of Israel, "Sun, stand still at Gibeon, and Moon, in the valley of Aijalon."
[13] And the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, until the nation took vengeance on their enemies. Is this not written in the Book of Jashar? The sun stopped in midheaven, and did not hurry to set for about a whole day.
[14] There has been no day like it before or since, when the Lord heeded a human voice; for the Lord fought for Israel.
[15] Then Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, to the camp at Gilgal.
Acts 17:1-9 (NRSV)
[1] After Paul and Silas had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews.
[2] And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three sabbath days argued with them from the scriptures,
[3] explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Messiah to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, "This is the Messiah, Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you."
[4] Some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a great many of the devout Greeks and not a few of the leading women.
[5] But the Jews became jealous, and with the help of some ruffians in the marketplaces they formed a mob and set the city in an uproar. While they were searching for Paul and Silas to bring them out to the assembly, they attacked Jason's house.
[6] When they could not find them, they dragged Jason and some believers before the city authorities, shouting, "These people who have been turning the world upside down have come here also,
[7] and Jason has entertained them as guests. They are all acting contrary to the decrees of the emperor, saying that there is another king named Jesus."
[8] The people and the city officials were disturbed when they heard this,
[9] and after they had taken bail from Jason and the others, they let them go.

      Now I want you to notice that in both instances the followers of God were doing odd things. Joshua asked and God caused the sun to stand still. Second, those in opposition to Christianity were claiming that the Christians were “turning the world upside down” and now they had brought that message the Thessalonica.

      And you know, we’ve been doing that ever since. That’s one of the underlying reasons for doing multimedia worship. We need to stand culture and the tools of our culture on their head. We have to show others that these powerful communications tools can be used to glorify God. And today we do that through a few of the Super Bowl commercials.

I. Pedigree Weird Animals:

      The one I think showed the most Christian attitude was the Pedigree commercial.

 

      Believe it or not, this is who we are supposed to be, people who look at the world differently, people who turn the world upside down

      I've said it before: We are the abnormal people, we have chosen to live by a different set of rules and a different master. We hold the Loving God with all of our heart soul mind and strength & Loving Neighbor as the highest rules for living. John Wesley would call this Personal & Social Holiness. Jesus simply called it being a Disciple. Paul said it this way in Romans 12:2 “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed”

      We are not supposed to be normal. We are called to look at the world with different eyes.

 

II. Career Builder:

      The second commercial and maybe the best, though it was a little creepy was the CareerBuilder.com commercial. 

      I think that commercial may have caught a bit of the anxiety of our times. As a rule, life might very well be like the CareerBuilder.com commercial. The overarching message of CareerBuilder is that you don’t have to live like that. You don’t have to stay in that kind of environment.

      In a sense, it mirrors the good news of the Christ. God offers us new life. The Christian faith is all about starting over, second chances, do overs, new beginnings, forgiveness, and resurrection. When that takes place in our hearts, it gives us the courage, strength and faith to make change in our lives. It may not be a new job that we need. We may need to hit the reset button in our lives. We may need to start over spiritually.

      In Matthew 11:28-30 (NRSV) Jesus said:
[28] "Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.
[29] Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
[30] For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

      The Good News we have for the world is that if CareerBuilder.com doesn’t help, we know someone who will.

 

III. Bridgestone Moon:

      Then there was one which I just thought was funny but it did illustrate one of the hardest Biblical principles we have to learn. I’m talking about the Bridgestone Tire commercial with the astronauts.

 

      Jesus addressed this problem right at the very beginning. The Disciples and followers of that time all had the same sort of feelings that we have. If I’m a Disciple, if I’m living the faith, if I’m doing what I should, life shouldn’t be hard. Unfortunately that’s a very naïve idea. Life is tough everywhere, we all face the same issues and problems.

      Jesus said, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33 (NIV)

      To paraphrase what William Barclay wrote: "The victory which Jesus won can be our victory. The world did its worst to him, and he emerged victorious. Life can do its worst to us, and we too can emerge victorious. We too can possess courage because of His conquest on the Cross.”

 

IV. David Abernathy Cars.com:

      The Cars.com commercial about the successful man who lacked of confidence when buying a car offered a particularly good commentary on self reliance and independence.

      Worldly confidence is one thing but Spiritual confidence is something else. This commercial reminds us we are all weak in certain areas, that nobody is perfect except the Son of God. It also reminds us that we are not alone. And that is so true.

      Hebrews 4:15-16 (NRSV) [15] For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin.

[16] Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

      When life beats us down, when life strips us of our confidence through cancer, divorce, loss of job, the loss of a loved one, we can approach the throne of God with boldness and regain our confidence and strength because of our relationship with God through Christ. We are not alone.

      And that’s a message we should share readily with everyone because we all struggle with weakness of some sort. We need God.

 

V. Hyundai, Commitment: (Theirs is only in first year)

      I’m sure you saw the Hyundai commercial about their Assurance program. The pre-game commercial was about Commitment.

      That sounds great doesn’t it? But did you notice that it’s only for the first year. That commitment to you, the customer is only for a year. Now compare that to God’s commitment. The Good News is that God's commitment is forever. God said: In Joshua 1:5 God says, “I will fail you or forsake you.” Jesus said, “I am with you always, even to the ends of the earth.” Not just a year, but Forever. That is what Commitment is all about. And that’s one of the ways we stand the world on its head.

 

VI. Pepsi: Men Can Take Anything:

      I really liked one of the Pepsi commercials.

      That's what we really think, isn't guys. We don't want to seem to vulnerable to each other. Guys are supposed to be tough. We’re supposed to be able to shake it off and keep going.

      But what happens and to whom do we turn when we suddenly realize that we really can't take Anything; whe we realize that there are blows to our ego and lives that are emotionally, spiritually and sometimes physically crippling? Where do we turn? To whom do we turn?

      We don't have to be independent. We don't have to do it on our own. The Good News is that God wants to walk along side us through every circumstance in life. That's why David, the boy who killed Goliath and grew up to be King could write: Psalm 23:4-5 (NRSV)

[4] Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff— they comfort me.

[5] You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

      One of the toughest, bravest men of all, one who looked death square in the eye when he faced Goliath, knew his strength came from God, not from himself. It is only with God that we can take and face anything life throws at us. If we try to do without God, we just get beat up.

 

Conclusion: Pepsi: Every Generation Refreshes The World:

      Finally there was the Pepsi Commercial with Bob Dylan in it.

      Personally, I thought this was the best commercial, not because I grew up listening to Dylan but because it shows that no matter what generation we are from, no matter what generation we grew up in, we all have similarities. The situations may be different but each generation does refresh the world.

      In Joel 2:28-29 (NRSV) God tells the prophet: "I will pour out my spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Even on the male and female slaves, in those days, I will pour out my spirit.”

      Because God moves in the life of both the old and the young, because with each generation there is a fresh outpouring of God's Holy Spirit, because God calls our sons and daughters and equips them for ministry in the future, we have nothing to worry about.

      They may turn the world upside down, but why not. Every generation has done the same thing. Besides the same old, same old doesn't seem to be working. Maybe their vision is the one we need to follow. Maybe their vision is God’s vision. Maybe we’ve lost sight of the vision so God is passing it on to the new generation. And maybe all God wants is for us to get onboard.

      The presence and Word of God can be seen in the most mundane of things if we stand them on their head and turn the world upside down. What do you need to stand on its head in your life?

 

This is the Word of the Lord for this day.

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