Commitment to My Roots

11/1/2020 Sermon

Message Title: Commitment to My Roots
Main Text: Joshua 3:7-17
Scripture Reading: Matthew 23:1-12;
RCL Scripture: Joshua 3:7-17; Psalm 107:1-7, 33-37; Micah 3:5-12; Psalm 43; 1 Thessalonians 2:9-13; Matthew 23:1-12; Revelation 7:9-17; Psalm 34:1-10, 22; 1 John 3:1-3; Matthew 5:1-12
Focus: God commits to Joshua and makes it known to Israel through big actions.
Function:  To acknowledge God’s commitment to us and examine our commitment to God amid anxiety and division.
Other Notes: COMMUNION


  1. Items: Candles, lighters
  2. In place of our normal prayer request space, we’re going to do a different prayer exercise.
    1. We’ve done this the past few years for All Saints’ Day in slightly different ways.
    2. Form I: Deacon or other leader With all our heart and with all our mind, let us pray to the Lord, saying “Lord, have mercy.” As we read each one we will light a candle for that group of people.
  3. Invite Chris Kelley up

SCRIPTURE READING: Matthew 23:1-12 Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and his disciples, “The legal experts and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat.Therefore, you must take care to do everything they say. But don’t do what they do. For they tie together heavy packs that are impossible to carry. They put them on the shoulders of others, but are unwilling to lift a finger to move them. Everything they do, they do to be noticed by others. They make extra-wide prayer bands for their arms and long tassels for their clothes. They love to sit in places of honor at banquets and in the synagogues. They love to be greeted with honor in the markets and to be addressed as ‘Rabbi.’ “But you shouldn’t be called Rabbi, because you have one teacher, and all of you are brothers and sisters. Don’t call anybody on earth your father, because you have one Father, who is heavenly. 10Don’t be called teacher, because Christ is your one teacher. 11 But the one who is greatest among you will be your servant. 12 All who lift themselves up will be brought low. But all who make themselves low will be lifted up.



  1. Liberty Full Covenant slide
    1. “As we trust we have been brought by Divine Grace to embrace the Lord Jesus Christ, and by the influence of His Spirit to give ourselves up to Him, so we do now solemnly covenant with each other that, God enabling us, we will walk together in brotherly love; that we will exercise a Christian care and watchfulness over each other and faithfully warn, rebuke and admonish one another as the case shall require; “
    2. “that we will not forsake the assembling of ourselves together nor omit the great duty of prayer both for ourselves and for others; that we will participate in each others joys and endeavor with tenderness and sympathy to bear each others burdens and sorrows; that we will earnestly endeavor to bring up such as may be under our care in the nurture and admonition of the Lord;”
  2. Focus
    1. Covenant = Commitment
      1. Commitment to God
      2. Commitment to Community
    2. Our place in God’s family is not on autopilot.

TRANSITION: As the Liberty Covenant unfolds, it exposes the necessity for a commitment to community to JOURNEY/CORRESPOND/COORDINATE with our commitment to God. 

The road map of faith isn’t on autopilot but requires us to participate in the navigation.

As we turn to the story of Joshua this morning, we will hear how God commits to Joshua and that correlates with Joshua’s commitment to God.

SCRIPTURE: Joshua 3:7-17

7The Lord said to Joshua, “Today I will begin to make you great in the opinion of all Israel. Then they will know that I will be with you in the same way that I was with Moses. 8You are to command the priests who carry the covenant chest, ‘As soon as you come to the bank of the Jordan, stand still in the Jordan.’” 9Joshua said to the Israelites, “Come close. Listen to the words of the Lord your God.” 10Then Joshua said, “This is how you will know that the living God is among you and will completely remove the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites, and Jebusites before you. 11Look! The covenant chest of the ruler of the entire earth is going to cross over in front of you in the Jordan. 12Now pick twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one per tribe. 13The soles of the priests’ feet, who are carrying the chest of the Lord, ruler of the whole earth, will come to rest in the water of the Jordan. At that moment, the water of the Jordan will be cut off. The water flowing downstream will stand still in a single heap.” 14The people marched out from their tents to cross over the Jordan. The priests carrying the covenant chest were in front of the people. 15When the priests who were carrying the chest came to the Jordan, their feet touched the edge of the water. The Jordan had overflowed its banks completely, the way it does during the entire harvest season. 16But at that moment the water of the Jordan coming downstream stood still. It rose up as a single heap very far off, just below Adam, which is the city next to Zarethan. The water going down to the desert sea (that is, the Dead Sea) was cut off completely. The people crossed opposite Jericho. 17So the priests carrying the Lord’s covenant chest stood firmly on dry land in the middle of the Jordan. Meanwhile, all Israel crossed over on dry land, until the entire nation finished crossing over the Jordan.


  1. Last week we read about Moses dying and Joshua taking over as leader of Israel.
    1. They were in Moab and preparing to enter the Promise Land.
  2. This week we see God commits to Joshua and God makes that commitment known to Israel.
  3. They finally get to enter the Promise Land!!!
    1. Through Joshua’s leadership the Jordan River is parted and Israel gets to cross on dryland much like the previous generation did with the Red Sea.
  4. Whoooo HOoo! God is with us! We can do no wrong! God is on OUR side! Or is God?


  1. What’s interesting about the story of Joshua is that people frequently leave behind the big picture and focus on a few verses. They take them out of context and put them on a coffee mug as a source of encouragement. Do you know what verse I’m talking about?
    1. Joshua 1:9 NIV “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
      1. This verse is a beautiful verse and should be source of comfort for us but it should also be taken in the bigger picture of Joshua & Israel’s story.
      2. The Israelites grow arrogant. They believe they can do no wrong because they are God’s people. (This problem doesn’t subside even with exile and the return to the promise land hundreds of years later).
    2. In Joshua 5: 13-15 Joshua interacts with the Commander of God’s Heavenly Army. This commander makes it clear to Joshua that God isn’t on their side or the side of their enemies, God is on God’s side.
      1. God calls us to God’s side. We don’t convince God to join us.
  2. Having Roots isn’t all we need.
    1. Being part of the family doesn’t mean you by default believe in God.
    2. Israel saw all of these wonders and still struggled to believe.
    3. From Scripture reading: The family tree doesn’t save you
      1. Matthew 3: 7-9  Many Pharisees and Sadducees came to be baptized by John. He said to them, “You children of snakes! Who warned you to escape from the angry judgment that is coming soon? Produce fruit that shows you have changed your hearts and lives. And don’t even think about saying to yourselves, Abraham is our father. I tell you that God is able to raise up Abraham’s children from these stones. 
  3. Redwood roots
    1. Picture: I had heard a rumor that most trees have as much above ground as they do below ground. I had never questioned it until this point.
      1. The more I researched and looked for facts, the less I realized this was right.
      2. Trees don’t have to have deep roots to be strong.
    2. Picture: In fact, two of the tallest trees in the US: Coastal Redwood and Giant Sequioa, don’t have deep roots at all.
    3. Redwood forest roots are connected. They support each other with their roots.
      1. “You would think that a 350-foot-tall tree would need deep roots, but that’s not the case at all with the Sequoia sempervirens. Redwood tree roots are very shallow, often only five or six feet deep. But they make up for it in width, sometimes extending up to 100 feet from the trunk. They thrive in thick groves, where the roots can intertwine and even fuse together. This gives them tremendous strength against the forces of nature. This way they can withstand high winds and raging floods.”
  4. The Redwood gets its strength to grow tall by connecting with other trees. These trees can withstand greater weather together than alone.


  1. Homecoming 2018 Photo: This photo is from 2 years ago and much has changed for our church in those 2 years, pandemic aside.
    1. Are your roots connected? Are they receiving nourishment and support from other roots?
      1. Do you only come for the roots? Or do you come for the growth too?
  2. Recap questions from last week: Signs in the back?
    1. Consider our covenant: How is your commitment to God and to the church?
    2. Roots: What do you love about Liberty?
    3. Growth: What do you hope for Liberty’s future




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