In this post, we're going to be looking at remembering God.
Our main text will be Joshua chapter 4.
We're going to be looking at remembering God, remembering what he has done. No matter who you are, or your particular circumstances, God has done something for you in the year 2023. I don't know what that looks like, but God has been working in your life.
Right off the bat, let me admit something: I'm forgetful.
This week, I came to church, and I didn't even bring my church keys. I forgot them at the house.
The Lord is so gracious to provide people in my life to help me remember things. Let's say it's a Saturday and Georgia's playing football. Becky needs to run to town. She'll say, hey, while you're gone, can you throw the clothes in the dryer for me? Yeah, no problem. I got you. No problem!
So I'm there watching the game or whatever, and I hear the tires start rolling up the driveway.
Oh no! Becky's home! Oh my goodness! I've got to run over and throw the clothes in the dryer and turn it on!
I'm just a forgetful person. I am. I'm just naturally that way.
Thank God Becky is more organized than I am! She puts everything on the calendar, and that helps us to stay on track. I appreciate her doing that.
My mom is very good. She's saved by my tail many times. She's very good about eight o'clock in the morning, sending you a text that says, don't forget today is so and so's birthday. She is so good at doing that, and thank the Lord she does that because I would totally forget.
Maybe you've got the memory of an elephant. I don't have that.
I will venture to say that as we walk through this Christian life, we forget what the Lord has done for us very quickly.
Let's go to Joshua chapter four.
Let me give you a little background: We're standing on the banks of the Promised Land. They're getting ready to enter. Moses, their leader, is gone. Joshua is taking over. He's going to lead the people into the land that was promised. Not just to them, not just to Moses, but it was promised to Abraham.
So this is it. This is the time. Let's see what He wants them to do:
1 When all the nation had finished passing over the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua, 2 “Take twelve men from the people, from each tribe a man, 3 and command them, saying, ‘Take twelve stones from here out of the midst of the Jordan, from the very place where the priests' feet stood firmly, and bring them over with you and lay them down in the place where you lodge tonight.’” 4 Then Joshua called the twelve men from the people of Israel, whom he had appointed, a man from each tribe. 5 And Joshua said to them, “Pass on before the ark of the Lord your God into the midst of the Jordan, and take up each of you a stone upon his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the people of Israel, 6 that this may be a sign among you. When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you?’ 7 then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it passed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial forever.”
8 And the people of Israel did just as Joshua commanded and took up twelve stones out of the midst of the Jordan, according to the number of the tribes of the people of Israel, just as the Lord told Joshua. And they carried them over with them to the place where they lodged and laid them down there. 9 And Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of the Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests bearing the ark of the covenant had stood; and they are there to this day. 10 For the priests bearing the ark stood in the midst of the Jordan until everything was finished that the Lord commanded Joshua to tell the people, according to all that Moses had commanded Joshua. The people passed over in haste.
11 And when all the people had finished passing over, the ark of the Lord and the priests passed over before the people. 12 The sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh passed over armed before the people of Israel, as Moses had told them. 13 About 40,000 ready for war passed over before the Lord for battle, to the plains of Jericho. 14 On that day the Lord exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel, and they stood in awe of him just as they had stood in awe of Moses, all the days of his life.
15 And the Lord said to Joshua, 16 “Command the priests bearing the ark of the testimony to come up out of the Jordan.” 17 So Joshua commanded the priests, “Come up out of the Jordan.” 18 And when the priests bearing the ark of the covenant of the Lord came up from the midst of the Jordan, and the soles of the priests' feet were lifted up on dry ground, the waters of the Jordan returned to their place and overflowed all its banks, as before.
19 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.”
Israel didn't have a great track record of remembering. They were very prone to forget.
We even see how Adam and Eve were forgetful in the garden. The first two people forgot. It didn't get any better after that.
The Israelites continued to forget, even in the end as they were being led out. They started to think about Egypt. “Man, we had it good back then! Think about all the good food we had. Think about this that we had. Think about that that we had!
And they're being led out of bondage and led into freedom. They would complain about not having food and God would give them manna. He provided for them a pillar of cloud by day, giving them shade in the desert, and a pillar of fire by night to light their way and protect them.
They would complain that you've let us out here to die and he'd bring water out of a rock for them. But it wasn't very long after each time that they would start to forget about what the Lord had done.
Well, maybe now that they've moved into this new land, they'll be a little bit different. Nope. They move into the land, and they start to become like the people around them.
Through the whole cycle of judges, you see this falling away, and God sends a judge, and they come back, and they return, and there's a falling away, and a new judge. Repeat.
Well, maybe the disciples got it. Maybe they weren't very forgetful. We see through the disciples that God would perform a miracle, and then they'd be leaving that miracle, heading to another place, and they just forgot. They forgot who they were dealing with.
Well, what about Peter? I mean, you know, Peter was the rock the church was built on. God told him, you'll deny me three times before the rooster crows. He had forgotten God in just a few hours.
We are naturally forgetful people.
I think that's why he told them here to set up this remembrance, to set up these stones of remembrance. Now, these stones of remembrance didn't just happen. It took a little work on their part.
If we're going to remember what the Lord has done, it's going to take a little work on our part.
These twelve men had to go into the river and grab these twelve stones, and it didn't say that they stuffed their pockets with them. They carried them on their shoulder. Something is going to be pretty big if you're going to carry it on your shoulder. So it took some work on their part.
They took these stones to Gilgal and they set up a memorial. This was a substantial monument that they were building.
What causes us to forget? Why are we that way today? Why do we need to remember? What causes us to forget?
Sin causes us to forget really quick. Temptations that come on that we want to give in to cause us to forget. How about our comforts? Just like the people during the Exodus, the comforts of Egypt caused them to forget what the Lord had done. Are there comforts in your life that cause you to forget what God's doing for you now?
How about busyness? We have to be the busiest people in the history of the world, and all we do is want to add a little bit more to our schedule, and a little bit more to our schedule, and a little bit more to our schedule…
We keep ourselves plenty busy. And then what we find is we've packed our schedule so full, and we're doing so much that we've forgotten to squeeze in a little bit of time for God, which really should be all of our time, and we're just trying to give Him a little piece of our schedule.
I'm going to say that we've even forgotten God in our acts of worship.
Have you forgotten God today? Is the desire of your heart to magnify Jesus? Is the desire of your heart to take up your cross? Is your desire to make yourself a little smaller and to make Him all?
Have you forgotten God when you're serving others? House of Prayer does a fantastic job of serving. We're a serving church. Look at the calendar and you’ll see that there's not a week that something isn't happening, where we can serve others and help others and bless others. Just look at Christmas, for example, all the ministries that were going on. Did you worship God in those acts of service? Or were you going through the motions because that's what you're supposed to do?
The Pharisees were completely guilty of being perfect at doing the acts of worship without remembering God in it. God help us not to become that.
So, I have “Three Hows” for you.
The first one is: How quickly we forget.
The second is: How good is our God?
The people were standing at the Jordan. They're about to enter. Good thing they came at just the right time of the year: Flood season! The Jordan is the biggest it's going to be all year.
Do you think that some of those people had forgotten what God had done at the Red Sea?
What a great pair of bookends! There was a parting of water when they started their exodus, and there's a parting of water to complete it. This is the second one.
And so they are standing here. This is a big river. We're not talking about the Nottely, okay? We're not talking about the Toccoa or the Ocoee. Imagine the Mississippi down in Louisiana, getting close to the Gulf.
So with the Red Sea, he cuts the water and it rises up on both sides. Well, with this one, this is a river, so you don't have to cut the bottom side off. So He cuts it off and it all drains down and there's a huge wall of water, okay?
So the priests carry out the ark. The water stops and they walk through. And it doesn't say that they trudged through the mud. It doesn't say that they came up with all these contraptions so that they could get through the sinking, silt, and nastiness of the ground. What does it say?
Israel passed over on dry ground.
That's how good God is!
Here's what I want you to get here: We are forgetful people prone to wonder. We are just prone to wonder and prone to forget and prone to think about ourselves and that has caused a separation from God.
How did God fix that?
He sent Jesus.
He sent Jesus and he made a way where man had no way.
And when we enter into a relationship with Jesus and a relationship with the Holy God, we don't come through marching through the mud and dragging all the filth with us. We come through on dry ground only because of what God has done.
Let’s be clear. The Israelites did not do this. It was God that did it completely and fully and it was all him.
So, how quickly do we forget?
How good is our God?
Third: how will I remember?
Maybe you can look at these things that I'm going to lay out for you and say, okay, that's a resolution. Possibly.
I'm going to challenge you to set up stones of remembrance in your life to help you remember. Do you have a stone in your life of remembrance to be in the Word? Because if you don't, your mind is going to be fleeting, you're going to be busy, you're going to have stuff come up. If you don't have that stone, you'll have a thousand other things to do.
Do you have a stone of not failing to assemble together? Have you decided that when the doors of the church are open, you’re going to be there? Or do you wait until your alarm goes off on Sunday morning to decide if you're coming to church? Let me tell you this, if you wait until your alarm goes off on Sunday morning to decide if you're coming to church, you've already lost the battle. It's really easy to hit snooze. It's really easy to stay in your PJs.
Have you set up a stone that in 2024, you’re not going to be the same person spiritually that you were in 2023?
How about taking up another stone and determine to join a discipleship hour class? What about Wednesday night activities? What about a small group? What about a one-on-one discipleship time with somebody? What about a prayer journal?
Another day my buddy called me and said, “In 2019 I did a prayer journal. This year I went and got that prayer journal and I started going through it. I just want you to know that in 2019 I prayed for you and Becky's ministry.”
And then he talked about all the other things that he prayed about in 2019 and how the Lord had stepped in and answered everything that he prayed for.
Do you have a prayer journal? What a stone of remembrance!
Take a step into something greater this year in 2024. Take a step to strengthen your faith.
Take a step to make God more of a priority in your life.
The point of what I'm getting at is unless we do something a little different, we're going to keep forgetting. We’ve got to do something a little different.
The Israelites did something a little different. They carried rocks on their shoulders for a month, something like that.
When something in your life is set up in stone, you don't waver on it. Decide what you're going to do in this new year. What are you going to do that is set up in stone that you're not going to waver
I just want to encourage you to do something. Stretch yourself a little bit. It's not just for you. It's for the next generation.
Twice here it says God told them to do this so whenever the next generation says what are these stones for? It's for them to say “The Lord God brought us through on dry ground.” What I'm saying is don't keep things that God has done for you secret. We are doing this for the next generation. God is stepping in and doing things in our lives so that we can tell other people.
You have your story of where you're at today, probably for somebody else's benefit. God has delivered you from addiction and sin and filth and whatever it is because somebody else is probably dealing with that too. Somebody else probably has a testimony that's similar to yours and they need that encouragement.
If we want to remember what He's done, then He's got to stay on the forefront of our minds every day, every morning when we wake up.
So, let me encourage you to remember God’s faithfulness intentionally. Daily remembrance will grow an attitude of gratitude and faith. As you wake up each day, roll those covers off as you remember how the stone was also rolled away on resurrection morning!
May we never forget all God has done for us!