May 26, 2024

God is Rock Solid

boulders stacked together

Worship Service – May 26, 2024

Memorial Day

As we enter Memorial Day this weekend, it is important to remember the true purpose of the Federal holiday. It is the time to honor and remember the brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving in the United States Armed Forces. We not only recognize the soldiers who were on the battle lines, but we also recognize the people who instead of weapons, use their hands to hold bandages, syringes, medicine, and tools of healing. Without these brave men and women, you and I would not be able to gather together today in this church and worship freely our Lord and Savior.

The Civil War, which ended in spring of 1865, claimed more lives than any conflict in U.S. History and required the establishment of the country’s First National Cemetery. By the late 1860s, Americans in various towns and cities had begun holding springtime tributes to those countless fallen soldiers by decorating their graves with flowers and reciting prayers. It is unclear where exactly this tradition originated. Some records show that 1 of the earliest Memorial Day commemorations was organized by a group of formerly enslaved people in Charleston, South Carolina, less than a month after the Confederacy surrendered in 1865.

In 1966, the federal government declared Waterloo, New York, the official birthplace of Memorial Day. Waterloo was chosen because it had an annual community-wide event during which businesses and residents closed and decorated the graves of soldiers with flowers and flags. And this started on May 5th, 1866. So it started 100 years before they finally declared Waterloo as the place of Memorial Day. For decades, Memorial Day continued to be observed on May 30th, but in 1968 Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which established Memorial Day as the last Monday in May in order to create a three-day weekend for federal employees. Oh man, those federal employees, they got it all. The change went into effect in 1971. Because of people barbecuing and camping out and partying on Memorial Day weekend, it unofficially marks the beginning of summer.

Joshua

The reason I chose our text today of Joshua 4 is because it reminds me of Memorial Day. God first commands Joshua to continue on after Moses’ death. God commences Joshua as the leader of Israel. The children of Israel had wandered in the wilderness for over 40 years and it was up to Joshua to lead them into the promised land. God wants his people and Joshua to persevere when they have faced a loss, a family death, or setbacks. God spoke to Joshua and told him to prepare to take the Israelites across the Jordan River. God encouraged Joshua to be strong, brave, and obedient. Joshua is told to be strong and courageous 4 times – three times by God, and once by God’s people. And three more times, Joshua is told that God is with him. Why all the repetition? Because Joshua needed it, like we do. What assurance did God give Joshua? In Joshua chapter 1, God offers Joshua the 5 P’s.

The 5 P’s – Presence, Power, Providence, Provision and Protection

God promised Joshua his presence. Joshua 1:9 – “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not tremble or dismay, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
God offered Joshua his power or promised him his power. Joshua 1:18 – “Anyone who rebels against your command, It does not obey your and does not obey your word and all that you command him shall be put to death and only be strong and courageous.”
God promises his providence Joshua 1:7 “Only be strong and very courageous” There he says that again. “Be careful to do according to the law of which Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right or to the left so that you may have success wherever you go.
He promised his provisions, Joshua 1:11 – 11, “pass through the midst of the camp and command the people saying prepare provisions for yourself for within three days you are to cross this Jordan to go possess the land which the Lord your God is giving you to possess it.”
He promised Joshua his protection. Joshua 1:5, “no man will be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you. I will not fail you or forsake you”.

Memorial Stones

In Joshua chapter 3 the focus is on God’s miracle in stopping the river. As we look to chapter 4 which was our lesson for today this focus is on celebrating what he did for the Jews. What I said earlier that Joshua chapter 4, when I said earlier that Joshua chapter 4 reminded me of memorial day, I was speaking of the 12 stones that were mentioned. What are the stones in remembrance of? In Joshua chapter 4:1-8, God commands the Israelites to cross the Jordan River, which he stopped miraculously. Joshua commands the 12 tribes to remove boulders from the riverbed which they erect in the promised land in a place called Gilgom. These 12 stones of Jordan were a memorial to God’s love and miraculous assistance. The first biblical references to Memorial Stone comes in Genesis 28:10-22, when Jacob sent a pillar in Bethel to commemorate a powerful vision of God that he experienced while sleeping there. Remember Jacob in the ladder. Jacob did not want to forget what God had given him. By physically remembering what God had done, Jacob increased his faith and the faith of those who were later worshiped there. Where he erected the stone was called Bethel, meaning house of God. The 12 stones for each of the tribes of Israel were to be a memorial declaring the mighty works of God for their children and for their children’s children. God promises to deliver them to the promised land and it shows that he is faithful to keep his promises. The point that God is making is that God is the one who will deliver his people. Israel simply needs to trust and wait. God enabled the Israelites to cross the Jordan into the promised land. The 12 stones were set up as a memorial of God’s delivery.

What can we learn from Joshua’s life? Joshua was a true leader, but he first was a servant. Having a good mentor, as in Moses, can shape you for your destiny. True faith means obeying God, even when his instructions didn’t seem to make sense in the human eye. The 12 stones were carried over with them to the camp and put there. Joshua also set up 12 stones in the middle of the Jordan, in the very place where the priests carried the Ark of the Covenant. They remain there to this very day. It’s said so on the internet. So whether they’re still there, I don’t know. But that’s what the internet said. They’re still there.

The Symbolism of Stones

What might a stone symbolize? A stone can represent guidance, strength, purity, stability, and the presence of God. In the Bible, stones are used as markers, memorials, fortresses, and places of refuge, highlighting their significance in the spiritual journey. Jesus’ tomb was sealed with a stone, reminding us of God’s ultimate shield. David used stones to protect himself against Goliath, signifying God’s power to lead us to victory. Victory. Like Memorial Day, we honor people who have gone into battle to protect our freedom. We put up memorial plaques or stones. In that way we are like the people of Israel when they celebrated God as General, Defender, and King with the stones. Joshua 4:23-24 – “For the Lord your God dried up the waters of Jordan before you until you had crossed, just as the Lord your God had done to the Red Sea which he dried up before us until we had crossed, that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty so that you may feel the Lord, fear the Lord, your God, forever.”

What’s inside of you?

Our role as Christians is to remind the world of God’s deliverance through Christ, that People are in bondage to sin, but God has provided a salvation. The secret of true success then and now is complete obedience to God. We must believe that God is with us in every experience. I’m gonna leave you with this neat little thought. You’re holding a cup of coffee when someone comes along and bumps your arm, making you spill the coffee everywhere. Why did you still spill the coffee? Because someone bumped into me, right? Wrong. You spilled the coffee because there was coffee in your cup.

Had there been tea in your cup, you would have spilled tea. Whatever is inside the cup is what will spill out. Therefore when life comes along and shakes you, which will happen? Whatever is inside you will come out. It is easy to fake it until you get rattled. So we have to ask ourselves, what’s in my cup? Anger, bitterness, victim mentality, anger, bitterness, victim mentality, and quitting tendencies? How about joy, gratitude, peace, or humility? Life provides the cup. You choose how to fill it. Today, let’s work towards filling our cup with gratitude, forgiveness, joy, words of affirmation, resilience, positivity, and kindness, gentleness, and love for others. Amen.

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