A Christian’s Expression of Love for Thanksgiving: How Big a Collection of “Memorial Stones” to God’s Goodness and God’s Faithfulness? Joshua 4:1-7

Joshua 4:1-7 ESV

Twelve Memorial Stones from the Jordan

4 When all the nation had finished passing over the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua, “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.’” Then Joshua called the twelve men from the people of Israel, whom he had appointed, a man from each tribe. 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, that this may be a sign among you. 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. 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.”

The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

In this time and season of my life, I am finding that I tend to forget things.

I forget names and faces and places.

I have looked for my cellphone WHILE I was talking on it.

I have looked for my glasses while they were sitting right on top of my head.

I have searched high and low in my house for my truck keys when all the time they were attached to one of the belt loops on my pants, resting in my pocket.

The struggle is real — and becoming more real than I like with each passing day and I find it is not just with the everyday stuff, it happens with the big stuff, too.

Have you noticed it is easy to remember the hard things?

Have you also noticed that it is hard to remember the good things?

I don’t want my habit of forgetting to push me into a place of doubt and worry.

I want to remember the faithfulness of God.

I want to always remember to say: Thank God for His Faithfulness in all things.

But, truth be told, I do not always remember to say “Thanks be to God!”

Forgetting is an issue which has been around as long as there have been humans on the earth.

Thankfully, God instituted various precepts to help people remember.

One of the most common seen in the bible was to build an altar or a memorial.

Joshua 4:4-7 NASB

So Joshua called the twelve men whom he had appointed from the sons of Israel, one man from each tribe; and Joshua said to them, “[a]Cross again to the ark of the Lord your God into the middle of the Jordan, and each of you take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Israel. 6 [b]This shall be a sign among you; when your children ask [c]later, saying, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ then you shall say to them, ‘That the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off.’ So these stones shall become a memorial to the sons of Israel forever.”

The Israelites had seen God do miraculous things: delivering them from Egyptian captivity, splitting the Red Sea, providing manna in the desert, and giving them the ten commandments.

Now, after forty years of wandering in the wilderness, they were finally arriving in the land of Canaan, the land long promised by God to the Patriarch Abraham.

God did not want them to forget this moment, so He commanded them to make a “memorial” out of twelve stones taken from the midst of the Jordan River.

The word “memorial” is translated from the Hebrew word “Zikkaron” which means a “sign, symbol, or marker that evokes remembrance.”

https://www.blueletterbible.org/lexicon/h2146/esv/wlc/0-1/

Zikkaron is a memorial or act of remembrance is about remembering the past in such a way that it impacts our present and even our expectation of the future.

Have we taken the time to notice exactly how often, in our fast paced internet, technology driven world we can easily forget moments when God has revealed Himself, His faithfulness, His will, or His calling to us in a significant manner?

It is significant, it is very important for us to make time to establish spiritual markers in our hearts, minds, and souls even more concrete ways such as pictures, or blogging, scrap booking or some other very obvious eye catching conversation starter so that we will not soon forget these divine moments.

Remembering past spiritual markers by some visible means often gives us a better perspective on remembering what God wants to do in the present and His direction for the future; it also helps to prevent us from not so faithfully moving backwards, and can serve as an “AHA!” inspiration for others in difficult times.

Most importantly, these markers remind us and others of exactly who God is.

Joshua 4:20-24New American Standard Bible

20 As for [a]those twelve stones which they had taken from the Jordan, Joshua set them up at Gilgal. 21 And he said to the sons of [b]Israel, “When your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, ‘What are these stones?’ 22 then you shall inform your children, saying, ‘Israel crossed this Jordan on dry ground.’ 23 For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you had crossed, just as the Lord your God had done to the [c]Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we had crossed; 24 so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, so that you may [d]fear the Lord your God [e]forever.”

How can we do this now?

1 Thessalonians 5:16-24New American Standard Bible

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. 19 Do not quench the Spirit, 20 do not utterly reject [a]prophecies, 21 but examine everything; hold firmly to that which is good, 22 abstain from every [b]form of evil. 23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will do it.

Building a memorial or collecting memorial stones, or an altar can’t look like what it did in Joshua’s day. That would probably break most city ordinances!

But there is still a way: start a [collection of] memorial jars – altar jars.

Begin now – wash it out and bathe it in prayer.

At the start of every month – get a new jar – wash it, bathe it in prayer!

At the start of every new year, get an empty jar – wash, bathe it in prayer!

It doesn’t have to be anything fancy — even an old spaghetti sauce jar will do.

Then, as you experience moments of God’s faithfulness, write them down or add a coin or two or twelve (magnifying God’s faithfulness), put them in your jar.

You can do this at anytime of the day or whenever you “suddenly” remember something blessed just happened – you “recognize” a prayer being answered.

Remember to write down the big stuff, write down the small stuff — Thank God: “My friend was healed from cancer!” or “I was blessed by God today.”

Write down the moments you and I usually or always take for granted — “It is freezing outside but my heater is working!” Or something you are celebrating —  “My life became another day older today!” “My first coffee was great!”

The truth is: we will remember the year more accurately is pretty awesome on its own. But there’s infinitely more. Every time you write something down, it is an opportunity for remembering to worship and expressing a gratitude to God.

In addition to that, every time someone else sees your jar, and all of the little tiny notes inside, or how “coin” heavy it is it becomes a conversation starter.

Let’s step into this season of thanksgiving and Advent and Christmas with faith and expectancy. At the end of this year, I believe your “memorial” jar will be full …… and so will your whole heart and so will your whole soul and your whole life.

Then, in 2023, start again – to watch and see whose faithfulness is revealed!

Precisely, how much are we genuinely thankful and exactly, how much are we genuinely grateful, unto God, the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit?

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

Let us Pray,

O Lord God, Mighty in Power, Infinite in Grace and Charity. You say that I should have faith in You so that I will be upheld. I do, Mighty Lord. I place all my faith in You. You strengthen me. Your holy force keeps my spirit alive and burning fiercely for You. I know that with You I can overcome anything. Thank You for remaining faithful to Your chosen people. Thank You for guiding me in my life and helping me to become a vessel for Your will. I pray that I continue to put my faith and trust in You because You know all things. You know what the hearts of Your people need to remember, and I know You will help me through whatever this life brings. Amen.

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