I remember the first time I left the kids with a sitter–the instructions, the notes, how to reach us. A friend did that with me too, when she and her husband were taking a trip and wanted me to care for some things at their home. A list: remember, remember, don’t forget.
Words in Hebrews cause me to pause and reflect. Keep on, remember, remember, don’t forget. These are reminders of things that matter. What are words that I would want to impress upon someone for their success and perseverance? How would I encourage others in perspective and purpose? And how would my words align with what God says?
20 Now may the God of peace— who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, and ratified an eternal covenant with his blood— 21 may he equip you with all you need for doing his will. May he produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to him. All glory to him forever and ever! Amen.
22 I urge you, dear brothers and sisters, to pay attention to what I have written in this brief exhortation. (Hebrews 13:20-22, NLT)
I have a dear friend who, at the end of our coffee dates, walks me into the parking lot, puts her hand upon my shoulder and prays for and over me. She is an example of precious community. I am fortunate to know others who do the same.
God of peace, thank you for friends who pray and point me back to you and what matters. Thank you for your word in my hands, scriptures that remind me of who you are–unchanging, powerful–all glory to you. Thank you for words like keep on, remember, remember, don’t forget, to encourage and remind. Because sometimes I’m discouraged. Sometimes I forget.
When the whole nation had finished crossing the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua, 2 “Choose twelve men from among the people, one from each tribe, 3 and tell them to take up twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, from right where the priests are standing, and carry them over with you and put them down at the place where you stay tonight.”
4 So Joshua called together the twelve men he had appointed from the Israelites, one from each tribe, 5 and said to them, “Go over before the ark of the Lord your God into the middle of the Jordan. Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, 6 to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 7 tell them …” (Joshua 4:1-7a, NIV)
Tell them of what the Lord has done. Tell of his faithfulness. Tell of his protection. Tell of his guidance and wisdom. Tell of his strength. Tell of his goodness. Tell of his provision. Tell of his mercy. Tell of his redemption.
I cleaned out a section of weeds from the rock garden, and my youngest daughter waited to haul out the wheelbarrow full of vines. While she waited, she balanced rocks, one upon another. Along the brick border, stacks of rocks, like an army.
Now the priests who carried the ark remained standing in the middle of the Jordan until everything the Lord had commanded Joshua was done by the people, just as Moses had directed Joshua. The people hurried over, 11 and as soon as all of them had crossed, the ark of the Lord and the priests came to the other side while the people watched. 12 The men of Reuben, Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh crossed over, ready for battle, in front of the Israelites, as Moses had directed them. 13 About forty thousand armed for battle crossed over before the Lord to the plains of Jericho for war. (Joshua 4:10-13, NIV)
June was a month of ending and beginning. One story ends.
18 And the priests came up out of the river carrying the ark of the covenant of the Lord. No sooner had they set their feet on the dry ground than the waters of the Jordan returned to their place and ran at flood stage as before. (Joshua 4:18, NIV)
They crossed through that water by God’s way, in his strength and might. When they were across, the water returned as though they had never passed through. But they had, one side to another. The water flowed like it had before. But they were different. And this, I know.
“They have greatly oppressed me from my youth,” let Israel say; 2 “they have greatly oppressed me from my youth, but they have not gained the victory over me. 3 Plowmen have plowed my back and made their furrows long. 4 But the Lord is righteous; he has cut me free from the cords of the wicked.” (Psalm 129:1-4, NIV)
I praise God for bringing me through. I can look back at the waters flowing, like they were never touched, and wonder: did I just walk through that? Was that real? But here I stand, on the other side. Thank you, God.
I put my hope in the Lord, now and forevermore.
48 He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 49 Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. 50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” (Matthew 12:48-50, NIV)
A new story begins. I let go and I don’t fall. I’m held. And I always was.
I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope. 6 I wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.
7 Israel, put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption. (Psalm 130:5-7, NIV)
When Jesus called me, He called all of me. It all began when I was 12 years old and when I was 14, I completely surrendered to Him. I wanted everything God had for me, I wanted nothing in the way between Him and I. I read the Bible everyday looking for ways to obey Him and follow Him just like Joshua did. Joshua became a role model for me for many years.
Long ago I promised the ancestors of Israel that I would give this land to their descendants. So be strong and brave! Be careful to do everything my servant Moses taught you. Never stop reading The Book of the Law[b] he gave you. Day and night you must think about what it says. If you obey it completely, you and Israel will be able to take this land. – Joshua 1:6-8 CEV
My first spiritual dry experience came soon after when I was 15. There was a long season of not praying and not reading my Bible – it seemed that everything that was relevant was not anymore. In my boredom one day, I picked up one of my dad’s books called, Martyrs Mirror. It has a historical record of all the martyrs who had died for their faith beginning with the apostles and those from the early church. Very early on in the book, probably the first five pages, I wept when I read of the passion of these early followers of Jesus and was ashamed that I had lost mine.
I remember to think about the many things you did in years gone by. Then I lift my hands in prayer, because my soul is a desert, thirsty for water from you. – Psalm 143:5-6 CEV
When I hit my knees to surrender myself, I gave Jesus my desires and my life. It was then that I realized that I had really given Him my all. It was never going to be my way, always His way and I realized that this was going to be the best adventure I could ever have. He had my life in the palm of His hand.
You cannot be my disciple unless you give away everything you own. – Luke 14:33
Father, You have never left me and You have walked with me in whatever circumstances I have been in. You have seen me ashamed for having nothing, seen me embarrassed for being so small and little among others who know much more than I. Yet, when I get on my knees before You, You make me feel like a giant, like I can do and accomplish anything because You walk with me. I may not be like others, but when I walk with You, You walk with me and I am all that I need to be because You have called me to be Your child. I love You for this and each new day is a day where I take Your hand and follow You. With a thankful heart.
Numbers–I keep going back and reading about the gifts at the altar. The hair that was cut and placed by those who followed the Nazirite law. The silver platters, the silver basins, the gold incense containers … bulls, rams, lambs, goats and grain. Offerings and sacrifices.
When a thought loop wanted to take me down an old and tired path, the Lord reminded me to rejoice and praise. He keeps me grounded. He shows me all that I have in him. Yesterday I prayed to him, “Don’t let me be distracted by this stone in my path, but help me to have a kingdom focus.”
Hebrews–Keep on … Don’t forget … Remember … I urge you to pay attention …
Keep loving each other.
Show hospitality to strangers.
Remember the imprisoned and mistreated.
Give honor to marriage.
Remember leaders who taught you the word of God.
10 We have an altar from which the priests in the Tabernacle have no right to eat.11 Under the old system, the high priest brought the blood of animals into the Holy Place as a sacrifice for sin, and the bodies of the animals were burned outside the camp.12 So also Jesus suffered and died outside the city gates to make his people holy by means of his own blood.13 So let us go out to him, outside the camp, and bear the disgrace he bore.14 For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.
15 Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name.16 And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God. Hebrews 13:10-16, NLT (emphasis mine)
God of peace.
20 Now may the God of peace— who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, and ratified an eternal covenant with his blood— 21 may he equip you with all you need for doing his will. May he produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to him. All glory to him forever and ever! Amen. Hebrews 13:20-21, NLT
Lord, if I look too long at an enemy’s work, the obstacle becomes my focus instead of The Way. Help me, Father, to have a kingdom focus. If I focus on what is wrong, I lose sight of all that is right. I want to keep my eyes on you. You equip me with all I need for doing your will. You will never fail me or abandon me. Thank you for grace.
Deuteronomy 8:2 “And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way…” How often have I stepped off the path where He walks to lust after another, and how has fear frozen my love, heart, and soul from meeting God in the garden to strategize His plan for my day?
Deuteronomy 8:18 “And you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant…” How many times have I been in need only to see the goodness of the Lord provide to the most minute detail and all that I didn’t even know to ask or think possible?
Deuteronomy 9:6-7 “God is not giving you this good land to possess because of your righteousness, for you are a stiff-necked people. Remember!” It is because of another’s wickedness that God dispossesses them and then gives what they had to His people. Why do I shout and wave the victory sign as if I had done some marvelous feat of courage or brave act of service to deserve His favor?
Deuteronomy 10:12 “…what does the Lord require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul…” What are the promises I’ve made to God that I’ve forgotten? Has He forgotten all that I said…all that I vowed…all that I poured out, asking Him to take?
Maybe I’m mistaken; maybe God was really just speaking to Israel about some archaic relationship between Him and them.
Remember! Over two thousand years later, Jesus referenced Deuteronomy in speaking to the people of His day. Mark 12:29 says, “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.”
God does not speak this way to everyone. He only talks with His people, His children, His chosen about remembering.
Today I remember these things. I have seen His mighty works in my home, His unmerited favor on my job, the needed rest He gives to my mind and the healing He has performed in my body. I have memories of His correction and discipline. I remember His sweet comfort. I have seen the impossible become a done deal.
Today is not unlike any other. I will do like the Widow in Mark 12:44, who “put in all she had, her whole livelihood” because she remembered God’s goodness in her life.
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