July 4, 2018
“Then Joshua said to the Israelites, ‘In the future your children will ask, “What do these stones mean?”’” Joshua 4:21 (NLT)
Every 4th of July, the United States launches into full celebration mode.
We mark this federal holiday with parades and fireworks, honoring July 4 as the birthday of the USA, because that’s when the Continental Congress approved the final wording for the Declaration of Independence in 1776.
Not only is it our national birthday, July 4 is also my spiritual birthday. It marks the season of my life when I renewed my faith in Jesus, culminating in a week-long event that began on July 4. It’s a date I’m good at silently thanking God for and remembering, but I wish I were better about actually celebrating it.
It’s easy to celebrate Christmas and Easter. I also love honoring birthdays and other significant dates. But commemorating such a personal faith day? God gave me eternal life … and adopted me as a part of His family. Knowing what God has done through His Son Jesus, I’d like to get better at acknowledging such miracles.
I take comfort knowing I’m not the only one needing a reminder. God gave the Israelites directions to recognize God’s faithfulness as they navigated their way into the Promised Land.
In the book of Exodus, God used Moses to lead the nation of Israel out of slavery. Then Moses assigned 12 representatives from each tribe to go scout the Promised Land for 40 days. All but two scouts (Joshua and Caleb) thought the land was inhabited with fierce giants. The whole nation erupted in fear and anger, plotting ways to find a new leader to take them back to Egypt. (Numbers chapters 13 and 14)
God was displeased with their faithlessness. The result? Ten of those 12 scouts died from a plague, and God told Moses that due to their distrust, the entire nation would wander in the wilderness one year for each day the scouts were assigned to survey the land, until that generation had passed.
This meant that an 11-day journey would take 40 years. Fast-forward four decades.
The Israelites finally approached the Promised Land. This was a huge deal, one God didn’t want His chosen to forget. He led them right to the edge of the Jordan River, then parted the flowing waters. Suddenly, millions of men, women and children (plus the Ark of the Covenant) walked across dry land. And the minute they’d crossed over, the rushing river returned.
To ensure they would always remember His faithfulness, God ordered them to take 12 large stones from the middle of the dry riverbed, right where the priests stood with the Ark of the Covenant, and create a memorial from them.
He next gave this directive in Joshua 4:21-24 …
“Then Joshua said to the Israelites, ‘In the future your children will ask, “What do these stones mean?” Then you can tell them, “This is where the Israelites crossed the Jordan on dry ground.” For the LORD your God dried up the river right before your eyes, and he kept it dry until you were all across, just as he did at the Red Sea when he dried it up until we had all crossed over. He did this so all the nations of the earth might know that the LORD’s hand is powerful, and so you might fear the LORD your God forever.’”
God wanted the Israelites to remember the miracle of what He had done. So He had them collect dry stones from the middle of the riverbed, tangible proof of God’s miracle. Then they were instructed to tell others. The reason? The world will know how tenderly God loves us when we begin sharing our stories.
Deep in my heart, I try to remember my “dry stones” — the many miracles I’ve personally witnessed, including my spiritual birthday. But some days, I still need God’s help to recognize all He’s done.
On good days and bad, but especially on challenging days when I think it sure would be “easier” to slip into old patterns and head back into “slavery” … Lord, help me see and honor the incredible things You’ve done. Help me remember and celebrate how You’ve led me to true freedom, using big miracles and small.
What tales of God’s greatness do you have to tell? How has He rescued you? Maybe like me, you could use a gentle nudge to meaningfully share what God’s done in your life. The world desperately needs more reasons to celebrate — especially when we honor God’s powerful hand at work!
Dear Lord, help me grab the “stones” in my life as a reminder of Your power. Enable me to be intentional about celebrating Your miracles and sharing my story. Let me walk in boldness and declare Your goodness, so others might know Your mighty ways. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Psalm 145:7, “Everyone will share the story of your wonderful goodness; they will sing with joy about your righteousness.” (NLT)
Ephesians 2:19, “So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family.” (NLT)
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REFLECT AND RESPOND:
How has God led you into freedom? Or granted your family a new perspective? Thank Him, and begin sharing your story today. You could start by letting us know, in the comments.
© 2018 by Stephanie Raquel. All rights reserved.
Originally published Wednesday, 04 July 2018.