Friday, January 1, 2016

This Pile of Stones by Jim Hart

Here we are – first day of 2016! Many of us still wonder ‘what happened to 2015?’ And most of us, if honest, would like to go back and change at least one thing, or fix something that didn’t go according to plan. We tend to remember the bad more than we do the good things that happened.

So as you look back on 2015, think about the good things that the Lord did for you. Did He heal you? Did He meet a financial need? Did the Lord speak to you and give you hope and encouragement? Did He make a way, where there seemed to be no way?

In the third and fourth chapters of Joshua we find the story of how the Israelites crossed the Jordan River into the Promise Land. The Jordan was at flood stage, but as the priests who were carrying the Ark of the Covenant stood in the river the Lord caused the water to pile up 19 miles away, allowing the whole nation to walk through on dry land.

The Lord gave Joshua instructions to have 12 men – one from each tribe – pick up a large stone from the bottom of the Jordan and pile them up as a memorial to what God had done. This memorial was to be a reminder to all generations God’s power and faithfulness.  It was to serve also as a reminder that if God was faithful in the past, then He will be faithful in the future.

The Israelites didn’t know what waited for them on the other side of the Jordan. They will come across great fortified cities. Untrained in warfare they will face the chariots of the Philistines and the skilled warriors of Canaan. Worst of all they will be seduced into Baal worship and will forget the Lord their God.

They face a rough future. But God (I love those two words put together – ‘but God’) will remain faithful. The walls of Jericho will fall. He will cause the sun to stand still for Joshua at Gibeon. With just 300 men, armed with clay jars and torches, Gideon will rout a Midianite army. David will slay Goliath. God will do great things for His people.

We don’t know what waits for us in this new year of 2016. But God does. He’s been there, and He’s prepared a way. Take some time and remember the times that He was faithful to you in 2015. Build a memorial to those times to serve as a reminder when you face the floods and the giants in 2016.

So here are two things to remember about 2015:
1) God was faithful in 2015.  Our hearts are prone to wander – we need to recall the good thing that He did on our behalf.
2) God did not forget you in 2015. When Moses was 120 years old and he was installing Joshua as the Israelite's new leader he told him to “be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave your nor forsake you.”  (Deuteronomy 31:6)

Here are two things to do in 2016:
1) Keep walking in faith. Be obedient to where the Lord directs your steps this year. He may take you to a mighty river and show you something amazing!
2) Keep making memorials. As the Lord meets your needs, or blesses you in some way in 2016, write it down as a memorial.

Sometimes I make notes in my Bible when the Lord speaks to me through His Word. The date April 28, 2001 is written down next to two different verses. This was one of those difficult times that we all face. The future was uncertain and I was feeling like a failure. I was asking the Lord if He still had a purpose for me. In my Bible time I was reading in both the Old and New Testaments. On that day I read Psalm 57:10 – “I cry out to God Most High, to God, who fulfills His purpose for me.”

And I had also just started reading in Luke. Moments later I read Elizabeth’s words to her cousin Mary in Luke 1:45 “Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished.”

The Lord knew that on April 28, 2001 I would need to hear from Him. He had been directing my Bible reading for quite some time so that on that date I would read those two passages at the same time. This is just one‘pile of stones’ that reminds me of His faithfulness to meet every need.

Let’s go back to the Israelites. There they were, a nation standing on the other side of the Jordan. In between the great things that God will do for them, they still have to live in the real world. They will face real difficulties and they will get discouraged. There may be times that they aren’t sure if God is still with them. They may not think there is a hope for their future, even though they are standing on the other side of the Jordan.

It’s in those times they will need to look back and know the hand of the Lord is powerful. They will need to look back at that pile of stones and remember the faithfulness of their God. That pile of stones was to serve as a reference point when the path would not be so clear. 

What circumstances stood in your way like a mighty river in 2015?  What was your ‘parting of the water’ experience where the Lord led you out on dry ground?  What memorials to His faithfulness can you look back on? What reminds you that our God will remain faithful in 2016?

Joshua 4:21 Then Joshua said to the Israelites, “In the future your children will ask, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 22 Then you can tell them, ‘This is where the Israelites crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ 23 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. 24 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.”


Amber Schamel said...

This is a beautiful post, Jim. Thank you so much for taking the time to write it and share it with all of us. What a perfect thought for heading into 2016.

God bless you, and Happy New Year!

Beth Ziarnik, Wisconsin said...

Thank you, Jim. A great reminder as we move into 2016, and so true.

Bless you!

Daphne Delay said...

The two scriptures you shared from April 2001 were perfect for me this morning... And a nice reminder that I'm not the only who sometimes wonders about an uncertain future.

Thank you Jim :)