Thursday, 6 October 2016

Set up some stones

This is an extract from Joshua which describes when Israel crossed the Jordan river:

Joshua 4 : 19-24
'The people came up out of the Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, and they encamped at Gilgal on the east border of Jericho. 20 And those twelve stones, which they took out of the Jordan, Joshua set up at Gilgal. 21 And he said to the people of Israel, “When your children ask their fathers in times to come, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 22 then you shall let your children know, ‘Israel passed over this Jordan on dry ground.’ 23 For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you passed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which he dried up for us until we passed over, 24 so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever'.

I am particularly struck by these things:

Perpetual memorial

God prepared his people. 
He told Joshua what was going to happen, and prepared him for leadership. This wasn't over a matter of days, but over his lifetime. Joshua had served Moses, the great, esteemed leader of Israel. He had faithfully stood by Moses, and followed God through the trials of the 40 years in the wilderness. Joshua had seen; success, failure, disappointment, victory, provision and lack. He had seen God's love and faithfulness for his people and Joshua had trusted God even when others were afraid. 
Joshua was being prepared. His character moulded into the next leader that Israel would need. 
Now, here, at the God spoke to Joshua. He let him know that the nation was going to cross this mighty river, the river Jordan. So Joshua then prepared the people to get moving. They had to gather their things and get ready for the next part of the adventure. 
The nation of Israel expressed such faith and trust in Joshua and God, that they followed what they were told to do. I find that pretty incredible, they were told that they were about to experience an amazing miracle - seeing the waters being stopped from flowing so they could get across. Their experience of what God had done before must of prepared them for the expectation of what God was about to do. 
God had made his plan clear, and the Israelites were to follow. What a brave bunch! The stepped into the unknown, and walked into their promised land.
Once God makes it clear to us His plan, we have to ensure that we are prepared. Are there skills you need to learn? parts of your character that need refining? or patterns of life that require adapting to show you are trusting in God's plan for your life? 

The waters were piled high and the nation went across on dry ground. DRY GROUND! not soggy, damp or wet, but dry! How great is God's provision!!
God provided safe passage as soon as Joshua and the people were obedient to follow his plan. 
God dried up the waters until all were safely across. No man left behind.

Why would God go to such elaborate measures for a group of people? 
God wants, 'that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty'. God's desire is that everyone will know who he is. God wants to be known by you and I. Not because he's power-hungry or in great want of fame and fortune, but actually because it'll do YOU good to know who he is! God knows about your life, and he knows that it will be richer and exciting if you invite him to be a part of it. 
Our lives and our testimony of God's work in our lives can be a base for others to experience and build their own faith in God. Other people can come to know God because of God's work in us. 

Perpetual Memorial
Now, I don't know about you, but I know my memory is bad! 
I forget things frequently and have to set reminders to remember some of the most simple of tasks. 
God knows our memories can fail us. That's why he told the Israelites to set up a pile of stones. Then, each time they saw them, they would be able to recall to memory how one man from each tribe carried them from the middle of the river, and placed them as a tribute to what God had miraculously done. They could then tell their sons and daughters, even their grandchildren, of the great deeds they had seen God perform. 
One memorial can have a perpetual effect as it prompts us to recall other great events. Memorials like this should instil in us, and the generations to come an awe of God. As a result an appreciation of his might and love should produce gratitude and passion in our hearts. 
When you see and experience God perform amazing things for you, what do you do? Do you right them down, do you have items that call to remembrance what God has done for you? 
It's important to memorialise those great victories, to recall God's might and great love working in your life. Why? Because the going gets tough, we get busy and forget. We can let the magnitude of God's might and love dull in our lives. We can feel miserable and alone, weak and forgotten when we forget. 
I often write down what God has said to me, and I occasionally go back and read it. Do you know what? When I read and remember, excitement and love grows. 
That God that I have seen grow legs, heal backs, speak to hearts and answer prayers is still the same God! He still does those exact same things, and he still wants to do those things in our lives! Sometimes our appreciation of these experiences wanes, our memories fade. I challenge you, this week, go back and recall what God has done in your life. Write it down if you haven't already. If you have - read it. I wonder if you read those things over the coming week, if next week would look a little bit different? 

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