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stonesTell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.” Joshua 4:7

My aunt died recently and I was given the honor of leading ‘Celebration of Life’ service for this dear, godly woman. As I heard the news about her passing it suddenly occurred to me that my aunt was the youngest child of my grandparents. Each of my grandparent’s three children died in their birth order. More importantly, I thought about the fact that an era had passed.

It doesn’t seem to matter how old you are, when your parents die you feel like an orphan. Whether you are 15 or 50 you wonder, “What will I do now without mom and dad?” Now, my grandparents, parents and aunts and uncles from that side of the family were gone, with only memories to fall back on.

One wonders if the Israelites felt the same way as they crossed the Jordan River and entered the land promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The stones they gathered from the Jordan River became a memorial to remind them of God’s promises.

The stones the leaders of the 12 tribes gathered that day were far more than rocks. Each of those stones was a story. Stories of being held captive, abused and feeling abandoned by God.  Stories of watching as, one by one, their parents and grandparents died in the wilderness. Stories of fear, confusion, doubt and grief.

As instructed, the leaders took those stones, those stories as it were, and made them into a monument. A monument to remind the Israelites and their children of the struggles in their past. But that pile of rocks meant one more thing that we must remember in our lives. That pile of stories spoke loudly and clearly the message that God delivers on His promises.

There will be times in our life when we are filled with grief, despair, confusion and anger. There will be times in our lives when we are under physical, emotional or spiritual attack. There will be times in our lives when we will feel completely abandoned by God. There will be times in our lives when we feel we have failed so badly that there is no hope.

That’s when each of us must look at those piles of stones and remind ourselves that God delivers on his promises. There was another ‘pile of stones’ that we look to for this reassurance. That ‘pile of stones’ so to speak is called Golgotha. It held the cross of our Lord and Savior and reminds us once again, that God delivers on his promises.

Each of us is building a memorial for those behind us. May we be building stones of remembrance to lead our children and our children’s children to the promises of God’s deliverance through Jesus Christ. May they be able to say about us that in spite of our failures and in spite of our shortcomings, we showed them the path of deliverance.

The ARC and at many other camps and retreat centers offer us the opportunity to ‘come away and rest’ awhile. It’s often during these times of solitude that we are able to step back and reflect on the stories of our own lives and re-energize ourselves to make a difference in the lives of those around us.

What stones [stories] of remembrance are you building for those coming behind you?

PRAYER: Father God. I praise you for the promises you have fulfilled in my lifetime. Forgive me for forgetting to notice the many ways you deliver me daily. Forgive me for the times my lifestyle has been rebellious. Help me by the power of your Holy Spirit to be building stones of remembrance that will guide those who follow me to you. In Jesus name, Amen.

 That same night the LORD said to him, “Take the second bull from your father’s herd, the one seven years old. Tear down your father’s altar to Baal and cut down the Asherah pole beside it. Then build a proper kind of altar to the LORD your God on the top of this height. Using the wood of the Asherah pole that you cut down, offer the second bull as a burnt offering.” Judges 6:25-26

 Gideon was chosen by God to do mighty things for the people of Israel. God’s people were under constant attack from enemies that surrounded them. From time to time He chose common, ordinary, unsuspecting people to do courageous, heroic, acts of deliverance for his people. Often these people were not only unsuspecting but somewhat unwilling to do the task prepared for them.

Perhaps no one was more hesitant than Gideon. When he received God’s word that he was the new go-to guy for Israel’s deliverance he balked at the idea. He wasn’t strong enough, powerful enough or wise enough to be a hero. Besides, from Gideon’s perspective, his family tree was a mess. The backyard at home was strewn idols and altars to false gods.

God saw things differently that Gideon. Gideon measured the possibility of success according to his strength. God measured success by God’s ability and willingness to use Gideon for the purposes He had ordained. God did not wait for Gideon to become a spiritual role model. He didn’t choose him because of his standing among his people. God told him to simply “go in the strength you have”. He refused to let Gideon’s heritage be an excuse for God’s ability to use him in a mighty way. Gideon went on to lead the people of Israel to great victories over their enemies.

People still use the same excuse Gideon used when approaching life. We base our success ratio on the heritage handed down to us from our parents or those in our family tree. We measure our dreams according to ‘the cards we’ve had dealt to us’ without adding the ‘God factor.’ The only ones that should be tied to the family tree are monkeys. They were born there and will spend their entire lives there.

The mistakes, abuse and poverty of our youth should not keep us from living up to the potential we have through Christ. He isn’t interested in our past. He is only interested in how he can use us for his glory in the future. God can use us even if we are unsure, outnumbered or weak. He alone is our strength and our deliverer.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, I thank you for the fact that You can use me no matter how strong or weak I may feel. I thank you for Jesus and His forgiveness. Like Gideon, I have some idols in my yard, things that keep me from pursuing you. Please forgive me for not believing. Empower me through your Holy Spirit to remove those idols so that you can work through me in mighty ways. Amen.

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August 2022
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