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Text: Joshua 4
Title: SIGN of VICTORY
ill. In our church - we enjoy singing the old hymns of the faith. Obviously, we have some newer hymns we sing as well. But, I still think the old hymns are the best hymns we sing.
- The old hymns were not inspired, but they are rich in the truth of God's Word.
- Sometimes, we may have to research a bit about what we are singing.
- One hymn like that - from the mid 1700's is.....
ill. Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing, Robert Robinson 1758
1. Come Thou Fount of every blessing
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I'm fixed upon it,
Mount of God's unchanging love.
2. Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Hither by Thy help I'm come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood.
note: We may sing, "Here I raise mine Ebenezer" without thinking, but rewind.... what does that mean?
exp. If you asked your average Sunday School child - what does it mean to raise my Ebenezer....
- They might think - it is like the story of Lazarus.... (being raised from the dead.)
- They may think of Ebenezer Scrooge - from Dicken's novel.
- BUT, this Ebenezer is not a person. It is a rock that the Prophet Samuel named in the Bible.
1 Samuel 7:7 And when the Philistines heard that the children of Israel were gathered together to Mizpeh, the lords of the Philistines went up against Israel. And when the children of Israel heard it, they were afraid of the Philistines.
8 And the children of Israel said to Samuel, Cease not to cry unto the LORD our God for us, that he will save us out of the hand of the Philistines.
9 And Samuel took a sucking lamb, and offered it for a burnt offering wholly unto the LORD: and Samuel cried unto the LORD for Israel; and the LORD heard him.
10 And as Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to battle against Israel: but the LORD thundered with a great thunder on that day upon the Philistines, and discomfited them; and they were smitten before Israel.
11 And the men of Israel went out of Mizpeh, and pursued the Philistines, and smote them, until they came under Bethcar.
12 Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Ebenezer, saying, Hitherto hath the LORD helped us.
13 So the Philistines were subdued, and they came no more into the coast of Israel: and the hand of the LORD was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel.
def. Ebenezer -- STONE OF HELP
SAMUEL SAID - ISRAEL HIT A MILESTONE TODAY AND HE MARKED THE SPOT.
def. milestone: "A significant stage or event in the development of something."
OUR CHURCH IS HITTING A MILESTONE TODAY.
exp. We've gone through 18 months of turmoil due to the pandemic. God has brought us out into a wealthy place.
A return to our full schedule of preaching, teaching and children's ministries.
A great facility for our church family to worship and minister.
The potential for spiritual growth and prosperity as we pursue a permanent church home.
PRAISE GOD FOR THIS MILESTONE!
note: In our Christian life and experience - as well as in our church - we are going to hit milestones.
IT IS GOOD FOR US TO MARK CHRISTIAN MILESTONES WITH A SIGN OF VICTORY.
exp. Something tangible (a place, a thing,....) - a reminder of what God has done for us.
question: Have you put up any Ebenezers in your home? Are you willing to help put up some Ebenezer's in our church home?
our test: Joshua 4 - Joshua and the children of Israel are going to put up a sign of victory.
I. God wants you to set up a sign of victory.
exp. Samuel's Ebenezer stone was not an idol. It was a memorial to God.
A. The victory stones are God's idea.
1 And it came to pass, when all the people were clean passed over Jordan, that the LORD spake unto Joshua, saying,....
exp. We have a large chapter in God's Word dedicated to this them of setting up victory stones.
The idea did not originate with God's people or leaders, it was ordained by God.
exp. The memorial was God's idea - why? So that man would not forget.
We forget very easily: Those of us who are older.... know we had better write things down.
Students are wise to take notes.
ill. The secretary here - Lynn - showed me the details for unlocking the building, disarming the alarm, resetting the alarm, etc.... she also sent me an email - great - why? I need reminders.
ill. I encourage people to write in their Bible - the date they got saved - it would be good to write down other important dates - the day you surrendered, the day God called you into ministry....
app. Do you have clear notations of what God has done in your life? God doesn't want you to forget. He ordained the victory stones in our story.
B. The victory stones are for every family.
2 Take you twelve men out of the people, out of every tribe a man,
exp. Remember - Jacob's name was changed to Israel - the tribes were his boys (Joseph split in 2). These were family groups. They were all a part of what God had done, was doing and would do.
note: Every tribe had played an important part in the birth of the nation of Israel. Each one was represented in the memorial stones.
app. Everyone in our church should realize that they are an important part of what God is doing at Free Baptist Church. You have had a part in what God has done, is doing and will do....
C. The victory stones are not optional.
3 And command ye them, saying, Take you hence out of the midst of Jordan, out of the place where the priests' feet stood firm, twelve stones, and ye shall carry them over with you, and leave them in the lodging place, where ye shall lodge this night.
ill. Witnessing to a man this week.... spoke about 2 commands given by God.
1) Do not profanely use God's name. (Disrespect of God.)
2) 1 day a week set aside by God.
exp. Man very quickly begins to live as if there is no God. So that you don't forget God, He has commanded us to remember Him one day a week.
Exo 20:8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
exp. In our day - it is the LORD'S DAY.
Rev 1:10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet,
Hebrews 10:25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
exp. If we neglect the Lord's day - we quickly forget God.
note: Additionally - we observe the Lord's table, IT IS COMMANDED, ordained by Jesus.....
- so that we don't forget what Jesus did.
app. The Lord's day and the Lord's table are victory stones which are NOT OPTIONAL. They are commanded by God lest we forget God.
God wants you to set up a sign of victory. (God's idea, for every family, it's commanded)
II. God is looking for men and women to set up a sign of victory.
A. Chosen men and women.
4 Then Joshua called the twelve men, whom he had prepared of the children of Israel, out of every tribe a man:
exp. I don't know all of the qualifications Joshua in Joshua's mind. But, one thing I know, these men had to be strong men. They were going to put a stone on their shoulder and walk.
ill. When I was in Uni - put on Barrel crew - we had 3 days to unload a warehouse full of barrels into the men and women's dormitories. We only had 5 men - the barrels were limited to 75 pounds, but some of the girls didn't use scales to weigh their barrels. (We carried the barrels on our shoulders as we loaded them into the Lorries stacking them 3 high.)
YOU WANT STRONG MEN FOR A JOB LIKE THAT....
exp. My boss had to make due with what he had.... not a lot of options....
note: Joshua had 1,000's of men to chose from - there is no doubt that he chose physically fit men to put up this memorial for their family.
app. We've already considered that God wants to put up these memorials. May I suggest that we need spiritually fit men (women) to do this good work for the Lord. Could God chose you?
B. Willing men and women.
5 And Joshua said unto them, Pass over before the ark of the LORD your God into the midst of Jordan, and take ye up every man of you a stone upon his shoulder, according unto the number of the tribes of the children of Israel:
exp. They weren't volunteers. They were appointed. But, there was no doubt they would do the job.
ill. I visited the loading dock at BJU - over a decade later - my boss had a picture of our barrell crew on the wall - he said - every year when I get our barrel crew - I point at that picture and say, "Those guys did it all by themselves. You can do it too."
exp. We may not have been as physically strong as needed, but we were willing.... we were running down the hall ways with hand trucks.
app. Are you willing today? God wants a memorial set up? Will you participate?
C. Faithful men and women.
6 That this may be a sign among you, that when your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean ye by these stones?
7 Then ye shall answer them, That the waters of Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD; when it passed over Jordan, the waters of Jordan were cut off:
exp. Once the memorial was up, the father's would say..... 12 men set that up back in the day.... one from every tribe.... let me tell you about the miracle of what God did....
ill. 9/11 was yesterday - 20 years ago - Katie and I were in NYC when 9/11 happened. About a month before the Towers came down, we had a mission team in Manhattan, Katie and I walked around the towers and said, "Someday we need to go up to the observation tower." I wish we had.
Dave Karnes - faithful man - of the 1,000's of faithful men - rescued 2 men.....
exp. 9/11 memorial commemorates the heroes that saved 1,000's of lives on that day.
FAITHFUL MEN build a memorial so that the world will, "never forget" what those men did.
app. Without faithful men we have no memorials. If we don't build the memorial, future generations will not be reminded of what God has done.
D. Obedient men and women.
...and these stones shall be for a memorial unto the children of Israel for ever.
8 And the children of Israel did so as Joshua commanded, and took up twelve stones out of the midst of Jordan, as the LORD spake unto Joshua, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, and carried them over with them unto the place where they lodged, and laid them down there.
9 And Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests which bare the ark of the covenant stood: and they are there unto this day.
exp. Joshua is writing this towards the end of his life. I wonder how many times he'd been to the stone memorial.
God said it was to be a memorial unto the children of Israel for ever.
Joshua said, "They are there unto this day."
ill. Other generations have put up memorials to what God has done.
- buildings that still testify - church buildings, Christian college campuses
- books - biographies, journals....
ill. George Mueller - started his orphanages - as MEMORIAL STONES to what God can do.
app. Are you a person of Christian obedience who's life will lay some memorial stones?
transition: God is looking for some men and women - chosen, willing, faithful, and obedient.
III. God wants the sign of victory to commemorate His blessing.
exp. There were wonderful things God had done, which were to be remembered!
ill. I've enjoyed reading about a historic Baptist Church in Edinburgh.
- 100 years old.... the church nearly forgot what God had done....
quote: Andrew Urquhart (church secretary) had an offer from a company to buy the church for a warehouse, "I, for one, am not going to believe that the light which has burned for so long in this place is going to be put out; that the people who so long laboured for the advancement of the Redeemer's cause ar eto retire from the work in despair; that the door of this dear old Chapel, hallowed by many blessed and holy memories, is to be closed, and the building itself turned into a music hall or a grocery store. No, brethrnen, I don't believe it, and in your hearts neither do you. I believe the crisis is of God, and he willb ring us through it."
exp. Those holy and blessed memories and the building itself - were stoned of rememberance for Andrew and the congregation. THEY WERE A REMINDER OF GOD'S FORMER BLESSING.
A. His blessing upon a step of faith.
10 For the priests which bare the ark stood in the midst of Jordan, until every thing was finished that the LORD commanded Joshua to speak unto the people, according to all that Moses commanded Joshua: and the people hasted and passed over.
exp. If you remember this story from your Bible, you'll recall that it really was a step of faith.
ill. The 12 men were going to get to see this miracle....
Joshua 3:12 Now therefore take you twelve men out of the tribes of Israel, out of every tribe a man.
13 And it shall come to pass, as soon as the soles of the feet of the priests that bear the ark of the LORD, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of Jordan, that the waters of Jordan shall be cut off from the waters that come down from above; and they shall stand upon an heap.
14 And it came to pass, when the people removed from their tents, to pass over Jordan, and the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people;
15 And as they that bare the ark were come unto Jordan, and the feet of the priests that bare the ark were dipped in the brim of the water, (for Jordan overfloweth all his banks all the time of harvest,)
16 That the waters which came down from above stood and rose up upon an heap very far from the city Adam, that is beside Zaretan: and those that came down toward the sea of the plain, even the salt sea, failed, and were cut off: and the people passed over right against Jericho.
17 And the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firm on dry ground in the midst of Jordan, and all the Israelites passed over on dry ground, until all the people were passed clean over Jordan.
exp. The waters did not part before the priests, like Peter in the NT, their foot touched the waters - Peter walked on the water, the waters under the priests foot parted to reveal dry ground.
app. Stones of memorial are for those who are ready to step out by faith.
- Come to Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour.
- Follow the Lord in Believer's baptism.
- Join Free Baptist Church in the work God has called us to do.
- Surrender your life to the Lord.
- Surrender to full time ministry for the Lord if God is calling.
B. His blessing of bringing them into the promised land.
11 And it came to pass, when all the people were clean passed over,
exp. They days of wondering were over. THEY WERE HOME AT LAST.
note: The manna would cease and they would eat the fruit of Canaan.
The covenant would be remembered as they would circumcise all those born in the last 40 years.
The battle would be waged and Israel would be established in the land.
app. I say to our church - the days of wondering will soon be over - God is establishing us! Amen - we need to put up stones of rememberance.
(I want to encourage you - God can establish you as a Christian - He can establish your family as a Christian family.) WHEN HE DOES PUT UP THE STONE OF VICTORY.
C. His blessing upon a joint effort of the congregation.
1. Spiritual leadership.
that the ark of the LORD passed over, and the priests, in the presence of the people.
2. Military and all the congregation
12 And the children of Reuben, and the children of Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh, passed over armed before the children of Israel, as Moses spake unto them:
13 About forty thousand prepared for war passed over before the LORD unto battle, to the plains of Jericho.
3. Physical leadership.
14 On that day the LORD magnified Joshua in the sight of all Israel; and they feared him, as they feared Moses, all the days of his life.
exp. Everyone would have a story from that day to pass onto their grandkids.
note: I don't know about you - I'd rather be one of the ones who saw it happen - than just those to whom it was told.
- The blessing of being told is you didn't have to endure the wilderness.
- The blessing of being there is YOU GOT TO SEE THE MIRACLE.
app. We have endured some toughness in the will of God. But, if you stick with it - you get to be a part of those who in the future can say - you see this church - I want to tell you of the miracle.....
- The year God provided hundreds of thousands of pounds.
- The year God revealed to us, "Great and mighty things which we knew not."
app. God's work is a joint effort. We ALL get to experience his blessing and tell of it.
D. His blessing of miracles given by His great grace.
15 And the LORD spake unto Joshua, saying,
16 Command the priests that bear the ark of the testimony, that they come up out of Jordan.
17 Joshua therefore commanded the priests, saying, Come ye up out of Jordan.
18 And it came to pass, when the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD were come up out of the midst of Jordan, and the soles of the priests' feet were lifted up unto the dry land, that the waters of Jordan returned unto their place, and flowed over all his banks, as they did before.
exp. Not a single person of the millions that crossed over - not one person could have removed the impossible obstacle to ALL OF THE BLESSING. But, God did.
ill. We don't like being on the other side of impossible from blessing. (Our church is currently in that place, waiting on God.... how is it gong to happen.)
ill. Verse plaque above my desk - WITH GOD ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE.
app. God's going to take it away. When he does - God wants us to commemorate His victory!
IV. God wants His people to revisit the sign of victory.
ill. In my mind I can revisit.....
- Where I was when God called me to surrender, ministry, church planting, missions.....
exp. It is good for us to go back to these VICTORY STONES.
A. Revisit the place where you entered into victory.
19 And the people came up out of Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, and encamped in Gilgal, in the east border of Jericho.
exp. Jericho was the Eastern boundary. I've visited this area. It is also the likely area where John the Baptist ministered and baptised. IT IS WHERE THEY ENTERED INTO THE PROMISED LAND.
ill. Last year - our family visited the church where I got saved. (I wish we could have entered.) It is good to go back.... and remember what God has done.
app. Why don't you go back right now to the place where you got saved. Don't forget the good wokr that God did in that place. Remember the need to live for the God who saved you.
B. Revisit the place of victory and instruct your children.
20 And those twelve stones, which they took out of Jordan, did Joshua pitch in Gilgal.
21 And he spake unto the children of Israel, saying, When your children shall ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean these stones?
22 Then ye shall let your children know, saying, Israel came over this Jordan on dry land.
23 For the LORD your God dried up the waters of Jordan from before you, until ye were passed over, as the LORD your God did to the Red sea, which he dried up from before us, until we were gone over:
exp. Future generations would be brought to these places and you could instruct them.
ill. I'm a happy tour guide - NYC - Edinburgh - expecially enjoy looking at Christian history - reminding our generation of what God has done in the past with His people.
app. We need to take our children to these places and remind them of power of God. "That mighty God is our God. He is able to work in our day as He worked in days passed."
C. Revisit the place of victory and walk in the fear of God.
24 That all the people of the earth might know the hand of the LORD, that it is mighty: that ye might fear the LORD your God for ever.
ill. I visited ground zero a few months after 9/11. It was like visiting a cemetery. Very quiet. You walked away from there with a sober reminder of the need to fight against terrorism and honour those who sacrificed their lives.
exp. We've come to the house of God today. This ought to be a place of victory. It ought to be a place that puts us in the fear of God. We ought to walk away being reminded of THE ONE WHO SACRIFICED HIS LIFE and of others who fought the good fight of faith.
app. Don't neglect to get yourself or your family to the STONES OF REMEMBERANCE.
IT IS GOOD FOR US TO MARK CHRISTIAN MILESTONES WITH A SIGN OF VICTORY.
exp. Something tangible - as a reminder of what God has done for us.
ill. Plague in our home - "Everything you see here is a testimony of what God has done for you" so said George Mueler to an orphan girl who marveled at the grand orphan home God had provided.
ill. I've said to our church - inside the entrance to the church building which God will provide for us in the near future - you will find a sign saying, "I will praise thee forever because thou hast done it."
A sign of victory is not just a plaque
- it is a place with a story
- it is a place regularly visited
- it is a place where the world, the church, and our family are reminded of the power of God
It's a reminder of the BLESSINGS OF GOD.
DO YOU HAVE SIGNS OF VICTORY SET UP - IN YOUR LIFE, FAMILY?
MAYBE YOU NEED TO SET ONE UP TODAY
- GET SAVED, GET BAPTISED, JOIN FBC, SURRENDER, ETC.
PUT UP A SIGN OF VICTORY!