Memorial Stones

“Take twelve men from the people, from each tribe a man, 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.’ … When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you?’ Then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord.’” ~ Joshua 4:2-3, 6-7

As Israel crossed the Jordan, Joshua commanded them to take twelve stones from the river bed and set them up as a memorial to remind them, their children, and their children’s children of the work of the Lord in providing them the Promised Land.

God also provides memorials in our lives as followers of Jesus to remind us of what he has done in saving us from our sins to take us into the Promised Land of eternity. Two, in particular, stand out: Baptism and the Lord’s Supper / Communion.

Baptism is a ritual we undertake at the start of our Christian life. In Matthew 28, Jesus says that all of his disciples are to be baptized and then taught to obey all that he has commanded. In Romans 6, Paul says that our baptism into water displays our death, burial, and hope of resurrection with Jesus and this display should help us to live God-honoring lives.

The Lord’s Supper, also called Communion, is where followers of Jesus share bread and a cup of juice or wine that represent the body of Jesus broken and the blood of Jesus shed on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins. In Luke 22, Jesus says that we partake of each in remembrance of him.

Baptism is our initiation into life as a disciple of Jesus, and an act we let remind us of our new life through faith in Jesus. The Lord’s Supper is an ongoing ritual we partaken in often to keep our minds focused on the sacrifice of Jesus in forgiving our sins and bringing us new life. These two activities serve as our own “memorial stones” to keep us focused and remind us that God indeed keeps his promises to us.

New posts in this devotional series will appear most Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays.

Good Reads 03.29.17 (on: God’s bigness, simple joys, and more!)

Here is a collection of good reads gathered from across the internet this past week. Enjoy!

On prayer: In a video presentation, Donald Whitney explains how to have a deeper and more meaningful prayer life–How Can I Improve My Prayer Life (click here to view)

On joy in everyday life: Taking Back Dinner Time by Katie Hughes

Anyhow, it occurred to me randomly one night that I was never truly in the moment. I think I was in the middle of bathing a kid and she was being cute and I was completely unaffected by it. Joy had left all of those things. I only had eyes for bedtime, my one true love. But really that means I only had eyes for my selfishness, because bedtime means me-time.

I find it very difficult to be present in the mundane stuff. Are you with me, parents?? …

But an older, wiser friend of mine once told me that not everyone has to enjoy the same types of things, but God does intend for you to find joy in the life He’s given you. If that’s lacking, you should go looking for it. What do you enjoy, Katie? (click here to read more)

On the bigness of God even in the little things: Drowning in a Drop of Water by Jon Bloom

These realities should have us trembling when we remember how Jesus didn’t drown. The Incarnate Creator Word (John 1:3) was in such comprehensive command of the math and the molecules that they were literally “in subjection under his feet” as he walked upon a sea (John 1:14; Matthew 14:25; Hebrews 2:8; John 6:1) — a sea ironically renamed after the reigning Roman emperor. This molecular miracle was metaphorical, for the sea would never so acknowledge Tiberias’s lordship. And when Tiberias’s government executed Jesus, the imperially ordered death also prostrated itself under the feet of the Lord of glory (1 Corinthians 2:8; 15:20, 27). (click here to read more)

The story of how a jihadi fighter became a Christian: The Jihadi Who Turned to Jesus by Eiad Abdullatif

Exactly why he sought solace in Christianity, rather than a more mainstream version of Islam, no one can quite explain. Reading the Bible, Mr. Mohammad claimed, made him calmer than reading the Quran. The churches he attended, Mr. Mohammad said, made him feel more welcome than the neighborhood mosques. In his personal view, Christian prayers were more generous than Muslim ones. (click here to read more)

On the joy of Bible reading: Treat Yourself to the Voice of God by David Mathis

I’ve found it revolutionary over the years to recognize and own daily “time alone with God” as an opportunity to treat myself. God’s offer to us to hear his voice is not a call to austerity, but the invitation of Isaiah 55:1, “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters.”

Consider what small supplemental steps you can take to cultivate eagerness and receptiveness to God’s word — to develop the mentality that a regular season of Bible intake and prayer is a joy to anticipate, a genuine chance to treat yourself in the best of senses. (click here to read more)

The Promise of God’s Presence

And Joshua said, “Here is how you shall know that the living God is among you and that he will without fail drive out from before you all the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Hivites, the Perizzites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, and the Jebusites. Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth is passing over before you into the Jordan.” ~Joshua 3:10-11 (ESV)

With the spies returned from Jericho, Joshua was ready to lead the people across the Jordan River and into the Promised Land. God had been with them in the past as he led them out of Egypt with many signs and wonders, and through the wilderness wanderings via the pillars of cloud and fire. Now God again promised his presence with them as they began their conquest of the Land.

And how would they know? How would Joshua’s leadership be verified? How could they trust that the victory was sure?

God gave them a sign. They already had the ark of the covenant as a visible reminder. In it were the stones containing the words of the covenant that came through Moses, as well as Aaron’s budded staff and a jar of manna. All of these reminders of God’s promises and provision. Even more, the ark was decorated with gold and figures of cherubim (winged, heavenly creatures) that surrounded what was called the mercy seat, where God manifested his presence as he gave Moses commands for the people (Exodus 25:22).

As the priests carried the ark into the waters of the Jordan, joined by a man representing each tribe, the waters stopped and stood in a wall and allowed the people to cross on dry land, just as had happened with the Red Sea as they fled Egypt.

God demonstrated his presence.

We no longer have the ark of the covenant like those Israelites did as they crossed the Jordan. Indeed, no one knows what even became of the ark after the Babylonians destroyed the temple. But we have something better, we have Jesus.

Hebrews 8-10 explain that Jesus brings to us a New Covenant that is superior to the Old one written on those tablets of stone and sealed in the ark. This New covenant truly provides the forgiveness of sins. The ark, everything within it, and everything that surrounded it in the tabernacle and later the temple were mere shadows of a greater reality. They all pointed to Jesus and his sacrifice for our sins.

Jesus is God’s promises fulfilled and his provisions given. And through Jesus we have more than an external reminder of God’s presence with us—we have the Holy Spirit within us (Romans 8).

So, let us not be like the Israelites as they crossed the Jordan, looking to an artifact and a wall of standing water to remind us of God’s presence. Instead, let us look to Jesus and all that he has fulfilled. And by faith, let us live daily with the Holy Spirit internally reminding us that because of Jesus we are God’s children and he is our Father—a Father who will never leave nor forsake his children.

New posts in this devotional series will appear most Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays.

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Do They Hear?

“For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you devoted to destruction. And as soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you, for the Lord your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath.” ~ Rahab, Joshua 2:10-11 (ESV)

When seeking to be spared the fate of Jericho, Rahab told the spies she hid in her house how the people of her city had heard about the mighty works of God. Such caused great fear among the people, even so, only Rahab and those of her household responded with faith and not dread.

In a way, Rahab’s experience mimics modern day missions and evangelism. We believe that our God is the One True God and he indeed does mighty things. We have a Bible, our sacred texts, that speak of God’s greatness in creation, judgment, and salvation. Take a moment and read a psalm such as Psalm 135. There you see the greatness on display as declared by his people. And the call of response?—praise from a heart of faith.

This is what happened with Rahab. She heard about the mighty works of God and like the others, her heart melted. But instead of letting that keep her low, she sought salvation in the name of the Lord (Joshua 2:12).

When we think of God’s great acts, truly the greatest act of all is that of salvation. This is why the cross stands as the pinnacle of the Bible’s story. Jesus died on the cross and rose from the grave in order to rescue us from our sins and transform us into a “people for his own possession, zealous for good works” (Titus 2:14).

This is the message that we as Christians believe the world needs to hear. And how do they hear? We share it. We tell them about Jesus and the hope of the gospel, and we share with them the way that Jesus has forever changed our lives. And what will the result be? Sadly, some will continue in their rejection of Jesus and say that our story is nice or silly, but not for them. Others will violently reject the message and seek to persecute the messenger. But still, others will be like Rahab—they will hear about the Mighty God and believe.

So, let us speak of the greatness and glory of our God, longing for people to respond by turning to Jesus.

New posts in this devotional series will appear most Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays.

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Revive! Night 4 @6pm

We invite you to join us tonight for the last in our 2017 Revive! series. Dinner in the gym at 5pm and service in the auditorium at 6pm. Tonight, Rick Thompson, pastor of Cornerstone Baptist – Nevada (MO), will be here to share on the topic of building community as followers of Jesus. We hope to see you there!

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Sunday 03.26.17 (the prayer of Jesus)

This Sunday we’ll take a look at John 17 to see what Jesus prays for his followers and how that should impact our lives. Then on Sunday night we conclude our Revive! 2017 series with Rick Thompson of Cornerstone Baptist – Nevada speaking on the topic of “building community.” Hope to see you there!

Schedule
@945 Small Groups / Sunday School for all ages
@1045 Worship Gathering
@5pm Meal before Revive!
@6pm Revive! Night 4 – “Build Community”

Sermon Notes
The Prayer of Jesus ~ John 17:1-26

  • Jesus prayed for his glory so that the Father might be glorified (17:1-12)
    • Therefore, live your life to honor Jesus and make his name famous in all you do
  • Jesus prayed for the truth of his word to forever transform us (17:13-19)
    • Therefore, live out the truth by seeking God in his word and through prayer as he shapes your character
  • Jesus prayed for deep community to be built among us (17:20-23)
    • Therefore, live in community by seeking God together in fellowship, accountability, and worship
  • Jesus prayed for us to be on mission in the world (17:18)
    • Therefore, live on mission by giving, serving, and sharing with others
  • Jesus prayed for us to see his glory and know him fully (17:24-28)
    • Therefore, long for the day of unhindered sight–our eternity with Jesus

An Unlikely Ally

And Joshua the son of Nun sent two men secretly from Shittim as spies, saying, “Go, view the land, especially Jericho.” And they went and came into the house of a prostitute whose name was Rahab and lodged there. And it was told to the king of Jericho, “Behold, men of Israel have come here tonight to search out the land.” Then the king of Jericho sent to Rahab, saying, “bring out the men who have come to you, who entered your house, for they have come to search out all the land.” But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them. ~ Joshua 2:1-4 (ESV)

In the city of Jericho lived a woman named Rahab, who had the occupation of prostitute. This could mean that she served as a cult-prostitute for certain religious services at a temple, or she could have possibly owned a brothel as part of an inn, which would help explain why the spies stopped there seeking room.

Either way, this woman, who to this point had been involved in sexual sin, helped the spies in their mission and ultimately found a place among God’s people. Many in the Promised Land had heard of this people of Israel, former slaves of the Egyptians and wilderness wanderers who won mighty battles. Thus, the spies were quickly identified and the king of the city came looking for them.

Rahab could have turned them in, not wanting to upset the king and trusting in his protection. Instead, she believed in the power of God and feared him more (2:8-11). So, she hid the spies and sent the king on a wild goose chase.

Because of this act of faith coupled with kindness, a request was granted her: That she and all her household be spared when the armies of Israel conquered her city. Little would she have known the greater significance that would come.

You see, this unlikely ally of the spies, a prostitute of a pagan people who heard of God and believed, later married into the people of Israel. Matthew 1:5-6 tells us that Rahab was the mother of Boaz, the man who would rescue Ruth the Moabite widow of an Israelite. Boaz would then be the father of Obed who became the father of Jesse who became the father of King David. But it didn’t stop there as David’s linage ultimately gave rise to Jesus, the Savior-King being born among God’s people.

In life, it can be easy for us to look down upon and judge other people because of their reputation, occupation, ethnicity, age, education, and a host of other things. We tend to be most comfortable with those who are most like us and uncomfortable with those who are most different.

Yet, Rahab’s story is a reminder to us that God can and does use people from all sorts of backgrounds. He took a prostitute from a city destined for destruction and placed her in the linage of his Son, the world’s Savior and King. So, let us not shy away from taking the gospel to someone because of their background, remembering that they could be a brother or sister in Christ in the making.

New posts in this devotional series will appear most Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays.