Stacking Stones

given to prayer series title

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Given to Prayer | Part 3

Stacking Stones

Joshua 4, particularly vv23-24

 

Introduction

>A praying church is a church of praying people

>When prayers seem unanswered, that is an invitation from God to depend on Him to show you His ways

 

Pray with THANKSGIVING

5b…The Lord is near. 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:5b-7)

 

Why do we pray with thanksgiving?

When we give thanks we are looking back to God’s faithfulness so that we can run forward with confident faith for God’s glory

 

All throughout Scripture, God’s people are told to remember: to relive and celebrate God’s miraculous actions in the past to fuel our ambitions for what he will do in the present.

 

With that in mind, let’s turn to Joshua, particularly chapter 4

Context

Joshua leading the Israelites into the Promised Land across the Jordan

The Jordan has crested over its banks.. this is no small stream

God instructs the Israelites to prepare themselves because God was about to lead them “to a place they haven’t been before.”

He was about to faithfully fulfill His promise

God instructs the priests to carry the ark of the covenant into the river

As they do the Jordan backs up, miles upstream in a city called Adam and the remaining water flows downstream to the Dead Sea

Once the ark makes it to the middle of the river, all of Israel passes in front of it as they enter, for the first time, into the Promised Land

But before the priests proceed out, God has instructed Joshua that one person from all 12 tribes is to go back into the river bed, take a stone for a memorial

 

>>>Joshua 4:4-8, 15-24<<<

 

Pray with thanksgiving so that you won’t FORGET what the Lord has done

 

So Why the Stacked Stones?

Because God wants the Israelites to be able to look back and remember God’s faithfulness so that they can run forward in faith for God’s glory

 

We are a forgetful people

Joshua knows this intimately (c.f. Exodus 32):

  • Moses and Joshua with the Lord on Mt Sinai receiving the tablets with the 10 commandments,
  • mind you the people already know them and have already agreed to them
  • yet in 40 short days, they completely forget and fashion a golden calf

 

Golden Calves

The Israelites made a golden calf as a substitute for the presence of God

When they substituted a golden calf for the presence of God their worship was perverted.

They began to think that God’s presence and power is in the calf.

It is God Himself – according to His grace and mercy – who establishes His powerful presence among His people who are faithful and humbly dependent on His mighty hand

You May Be Thinking? “How Foolish… a Golden Calf”

You may not throw a bushel of earrings in a fire and fashion a calf, but you are prone to create golden calves in your life just the same

(e.g.) work, bank account, a relationship, social media status, health

“If I have these, then I have God”

 

Identify these, crush them, repent, give thanks to God, and surrender your security to Christ Jesus

 

Golden calves in a church as well

(e.g.) decorated, built, music selections/who’s leading/who’s accompanying, the order of service, the programs, the calendar

“God only shows up when church is done this (my) way”

 

Faith Family, we must

  • Identify these calves, crush them, repent,
  • Fear nothing but Him
  • Be unified behind the authority of Bible, the priority of the gospel,
  • and Surrender our false securities to the leading of the Holy Spirit in order to glorify Christ Jesus..
  • By doing whatever it takes to help everyone meet Jesus – no matter their age or stage, those far from faith or those near to God.
  • Give thanks to God for His faithfulness in the past, and..
  • We lean all our hope for the future on Jesus’ intentions for the church, not on our ability to make it happen.

 

Because

God is not just faithful. God is ABLE!

Faithful but unable.. Able but unfaithful.. Faithful AND Able

Those stones were a reminder for the Israelites

If they were to turn back, they would see those stones and remember, that God did something – something specific – that only God could do

So today, we look back as a reminder that God is FAITHFUL and ABLE to do beyond what we could ever think or imagine

 

The Wonder Working of God’s “mighty hand” (v24a)

“mighty” – hā-zāq – having all authority

“hand” – yād – caries the sense of being immanent and powerful

God’s mighty hand wipes out uncertainty and fear – Faithful and Able

 

God moves His mighty hand (v24b):

1.) So that the nations will know His GLORY

Every salvation and every transformed life is for His glory – Ps 106:8

 

2.) So that His people/His church will completely abandon FEAR and follow Him in FAITH

For the Israelites, just ahead there was

a recommitment to the Lord (5:1-9)

a renewed covenant and the beginning of a new chapter (5:8-9)

a fulfillment of a promise (5:10-12)

the presence of the Lord among them (5:13-15)

a test of faith and an advancement of God’s people (6:1-27)

 

The last words of a tribesman (Assamese), who along with his family decided to follow Jesus Christ in the middle of the 19th century through the efforts of a Welsh missionary.

 

Called to renounce his faith by the village chief, the convert declared, “I have decided to follow Jesus.” In response to threats to his family, he continued, “Though no one joins me, still I will follow.”

 

His wife was killed, and he was executed while singing, “The cross before me, the world behind me.” This display of faith is reported to have led to the conversion of the chief and others in the village.

I have decided to follow Jesus;

No turning back, no turning back.

Though I may wonder, I still will follow;

No turning back, no turning back.

The world behind me, the cross before me;

No turning back, no turning back.

Though none go with me, still I will follow;

No turning back, no turning back.

I have decided to follow Jesus;

No turning back, no turning back.

 

And so today, we are stacking stones

We are celebrating what God has done

Not to be braggadocios but to bear witness to God’s mighty hand at work and build confidence in the faithfulness of God as we follow Him

And so with awe and thanksgiving…

We are looking back to God’s faithfulness so that we can run forward in faith for God’s glory

 

>>> Annual Report

 

In 25-percent of our services in 2016, we welcomed over 170 people to come meet Jesus. 258 unique worshippers joined together to celebrate the resurrection on Easter weekend. Over 100 also came to our Sunrise Service and Celebration Breakfast. We hosted 306 over the Christmas weekend with 194 on our largest Christmas Eve service ever and many families came to both our Christmas Eve and Christmas service.

 

24% increase in small groups since 2012

 

To God be the glory, great things he hath done! May his faithfulness be recounted from generation to generation.

God has done great things in the life of this church.

BUT HE IS NOT THROUGH.

 

THE BEST DAYS ARE AHEAD

 

 

Have you taken time to stack some stones?

 

What has God done in your life?

1.) Today as a family take time to stack some stones as a reminder of God’s faithfulness.

 

2.) Stack some stones with your children so that they will confidently count on God

 

3.) Do not let any day go by without giving thanks and recounting God’s faithful, mighty hand in your life.

 

Because doing so will build confidence in your life

as you follow Jesus in faith

 

Have you experienced by faith God’s mighty hand in your life?

Has God so stirred in your soul that your life is an example to the nations what it means to be redeemed by grace?

 

Have you surrendered your life to Jesus?

 

Have you confessed your iniquity and plead for the mercy of God?

 

Is it time to crush those golden calves?

 

1 John 1:8-9

8 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

 

 

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