Called to Remember

Promised Land-Called to Remember

 

Promised Land 

Called to Remember

Sunday, January 22, 2023   

Welcome: 

Opening call to worship: Lamentations 3: 19-25 NLT 19 The thought of my suffering and homelessness
    is bitter beyond words. 20 I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. 21 Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: 22 The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. 23 Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. 24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!”25 The Lord is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him.

May our praise of God ever be on our lips. 

Have you ever had a moment in your life God did something awesome and you knew without a doubt, it was His grace and favor making that possible and you thought, I am going to remember this moment forever. I will never forget what You did today God! Of course, you have had those moments, right? Ones you can’t explain how things worked out or came together, or how you were protected or saved from certain destruction…but God. There are so many moments in our life that are “but God” moments because there is no other explanation for what happens. 

It’s simply a matter of do we recognize these as God moments, God’s favor and protection or do we try to rationalize it or even chalk it up as coincidence? 

Why is it we have a culture and people who would rather believe in something so insignificant as things coincidentally aligning together in our favor, over believing a loving, all-powerful God is working supernaturally in our favor? Why would we leave anything to chance in our life when we can choose and believe in the Living God who leaves nothing to chance and divinely orchestrates all things to accomplish His purposes? 

We can all choose to believe in a Living God who delights in blessing His faithful children and that He works miracles so those blessings might be released in our lives. 

I would much rather live with this belief and not leave things to chance or coincidence when it comes to my life and what happens. I have decided long ago I am going to trust in God and choose to believe He is for me and He has great plans for me and He will bring those plans about as I remain faithful to Him. I am going to choose to believe that nothing and no one can stand against me when God is for me-that if He purposes something to happen in my life, it will happen, so long as I take the steps of faith, He is asking of me, to release those blessings in my life. 

And that is the key, right? So long as we take steps of faith, just like we have been discussing the Israelites steps of faith into the Jordan River. The miracle of having the rushing waters stop wouldn’t happen until their feet touched the water. They had to step into the water first. But as soon as they did, God did something truly awesome as only He can do! 

These are the moments I’m talking about in our lives-when we trust in God and say Ok Lord, because You say so and because You ask me to do it, I will do it by faith that You will show up and provide. And the moment we step out and do whatever it is He has asked us to do, He shows up! It might be funds appearing from out of nowhere to cover a bill or expense you have. It might be a door opening that had been shut tight. It might be a clear scan and good health report when the doctors had been saying otherwise. It might be healing your organs or giving you life again when statistics said your prognosis isn’t good. It might be a restored relationship that seemed all but gone and suddenly a heart is softened. It might be you missing an accident by a hair’s breadth, or walking away from an accident you surely should not have. It might be a sudden feeling of courage rise within you to do something you know you would never do otherwise, or having the exact words come into your mouth to speak over a person that changes everything for the better. 

It’s these moments… you can call them coincidence or luck, but I plead with you today, to call them what they are, But God moments! When we recognize God’s intervention in our lives, we can’t help but be blown away at the way He works. We stand in awe of the mighty power of God. We purposely take notice in our minds and hearts and declare, “I will remember this for the rest of my life God!”

Until life gets busy and complicated again, and we forget… 

Isn’t that the truth in how we work far too often? It’s not God who quits working in our lives; it’s we who fail to see Him working or we who fail to remain faithful to Him as we reach the next complication. We forget what He has done in the past and we no longer stand in confident faith; because we are no longer fixed on who He has been all along and we become fixed on what we’re up against. 

God calls us to remember His greatness. He called Israel to remember what He did in supernaturally enabling them to cross the mighty Jordan River. God knew they would need to remember this moment for what they would face ahead, and their children would need to remember for what they would face as they became adults. They would need to remember to take hold of the promised land and make it their inheritance. Remembering gives us courage, confidence, and patience to endure the next challenges that are sure to come in life. There are things we can do to help us remember the awesome works of our God so we continue to live by faith no matter our circumstances. Let’s keep learning from how God is teaching Joshua and the people of Israel and let us heed His instruction. 

Joshua 4: 1-7 NIV                                                                             

When the whole nation had finished crossing the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua, “Choose twelve men from among the people, one from each tribe, and tell them to take up twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, from right where the priests are standing, and carry them over with you and put them down at the place where you stay tonight.” So Joshua called together the twelve men he had appointed from the Israelites, one from each tribe, and said to them, “Go over before the ark of the Lord your God into the middle of the Jordan. Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.”

  • Create a Memorial.  

 

Did you notice God instructed them to immediately go back into the river and pick up stones and create a memorial on the dry land they were now camping on. There were not pebbles they were picking up to carry along in their pocket. These were boulders they had to carry on their shoulders-so it was with significant effort they would be bringing these stones out of the middle of the riverbed. God told them to build a memorial as a reminder to all who just crossed through safely, but also for their children in the future. 

 

If we look back to Deuteronomy, we’ll see God giving Moses the Ten Commandments and establishing rules for His chosen people to follow, ways to live as holy people that were different than the worldly customs. This was on purpose so all would know there was something different about this group of people. They would not be feared because of their size or numbers; but because of their God who would do powerful things to bring them to victory time and time again as they obediently followed Him. 

 

In Deuteronomy 5 Moses has just shared the Ten Commandments and then he says this:

32 So be careful to do what the Lord your God has commanded you; do not turn aside to the right or to the left. 33 Walk in obedience to all that the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess.

 

Deuteronomy 8:18 NIV 18 But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.

 

So now Israel had crossed the Jordan and God said remember what I have done for you….

 

Joshua 4: 8-9 NIV So the Israelites did as Joshua commanded them. They took twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, as the Lord had told Joshua; and they carried them over with them to their camp, where they put them down. Joshua set up the twelve stones that had been in the middle of the Jordan at the spot where the priests who carried the ark of the covenant had stood. 

 

Samuel who was a prophet and judge before kings were established-but was the one who anointed Israel’s first king; also set up a memorial of stones to remember God’s divine help in their time of need. 

 

The people had turned to the left and the right and were not being faithful to God and were about to take a major beating from the Philistines who were closing in. They cried out to Samuel for God’s mercy. He told them to repent, get rid of all their pagan idols, fast and pray to God only, and choose to recommit their hearts to only worship God again. Samuel said I will pray to the Lord for you. Samuel prayed and made an offering to God, and just then the Philistines got ready to attack and God responded with a booming voice throwing them into confusion and positioned the Israelites to defeat them in battle. Let’s see Samuel’s response to God’s action.

 

1 Samuel 7:12 NLT 12 Samuel then took a large stone and placed it between the towns of Mizpah and Jeshanah. He named it Ebenezer (which means “the stone of help”), for he said, “Up to this point the Lord has helped us!”

 

You might be quite familiar with a hymn called Come Thou Fount of Blessing

Come Thou fount of every blessing
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace
Streams of mercy never ceasing
Call for songs of loudest praise

 

Here I raise my Ebenezer
Here by Thy great help I’ve come
And I hope by Thy good pleasure
Safely to arrive at home

 

Prone to wander, Lord I feel it
Prone to leave the God I love
Here’s my heart, oh take and seal it
Seal it for Thy courts above

 

If you ever wondered why you were singing those lyrics, now you know. But you also see why God calls us to remember-because our hearts are prone to wander and we are quick to forget it is by His power and grace we have our victories. 

 

We might not make stone memorials to remember God’s provision-or we may-if the Spirit leads us.. but we can surely write and record what has happened in our lives so we can look back and remember. I urge you to do this when God shows up- write it down somewhere you can find again. Include the date and the details of what happened and how God provided. Then when you are feeling like you are on rocky ground or your faith is wavering you go back and read all the ways God has been faithful over the years. It’s important because we do forget. That powerful feeling we swear we’ll never lose, fades away in time, if we don’t actively remember. 

  • Tell Others.   

Notice how it wasn’t enough for those who crossed to remember what God did for them. God called them to tell their children, who then would tell their children’s children. You don’t keep awesome moments like this to yourself. You tell others-so their faith might grow also! And in you’re telling them, your faith also grows! 

Joshua 4:7  tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.

What is the great commission given to all believers? To be silent and never say anything about who God is? Keep Him all to yourself? No, we are to go into all the earth and proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ! We are sent to make disciples of all the nations-everyone of us! That begins right in our own homes, especially with our children. 

Sometimes we feel it’s best to not share with our kids the struggles we have and while I agree we need to act with wisdom and discernment in what and how we share-I also think there is much value in letting our children see how we turn to and trust in God to help us in difficult times. If we don’t speak of this, how will they learn? If we don’t show them this, they will model what we are showing them instead. So, we are to tell others of God’s goodness and mercies! 

Psalm 105: 1-2 NLT Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness.  Let the whole world know what he has done. Sing to him; yes, sing his praises.     Tell everyone about his wonderful deeds.

 

Revelation 12:11 NIV They triumphed over him  by the blood of the Lamb
    and by the word of their testimony;

By doing this, we build our faith in God. Every time we recite and remember what He has done and we speak of it, our own faith grows. Remembering and telling others also raises our desire to worship our God, which builds our faith in God. 

  • Revere and Worship God. 

Israel was called to remember and continue to keep God first in their hearts, to worship Him always. 

Joshua stated again as to the purpose of this memorial being set up, it’s for now and it’s for the future, when your children ask what are these stones for, 

22 tell them, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ 23 For the Lord your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The Lord your God did to the Jordan what he had done to the Red Sea[b] when he dried it up before us until we had crossed over. 2

Joshua 4:24 NIV 24 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 is the purpose for all to fear the Lord your God-in reverent worship and awe. To see Him as a holy God; as your holy and all-powerful God. So we don’t turn to the left or right but stay on the path He has lit, by faith. 

The apostle Paul spoke of this truth later in the New Testament as he was teaching the Galatians. They had been going along great, following all that Paul instructed them through what Jesus taught him and then as we can all do, they started turning to the left and to the right. They started listening to others telling them what they need to do for proper worship which included behaviors that sought righteousness by following the law. That is what legalism is. That is religion over Christianity.  We are to live by the Spirit guiding us-not striving in our own power to gain righteousness with God. 

Look at what Paul says about why God performs miracles like He did at the Jordan river. 

Galatians 3:5 NLT I ask you again, does God give you the Holy Spirit and work miracles among you because you obey the law? Of course not! It is because you believe the message you heard about Christ.

Faith in Christ is what releases the miracle working power of God in our lives. So our rightful response is to worship God, always, no matter how hard a day we have had; no matter how bleak our situation looks; no matter how big that mountain appears. We worship in faith of who Christ is and trust the miracles will follow. 

Luke 4:8 NIV Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.

Slide: Worship promotes obedience. Obedience promotes worship. 

                                         

Conclusion:  God supernaturally provided as Israel acted by faith. Israel was called to remember and worship God. God is the same God today as He was then and will be tomorrow. We too must remember, by proclaiming His faithfulness in our lives. We too must worship God with all our heart. This is how we enter the promised land. 

Let’s pray: 

Offering: 

Final Blessing: Psalm 121: 7-8 NASB The Lord will [a]protect you from all evil;
He will keep your soul.
The Lord will [b]guard your going out and your coming in
From this time and forever.

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