Meaningful Reminders

Reminders Of God's Faithfulness Serve As A Way To Share Stories Of His Grace

Ross Sawyers
Sep 3, 2023    57m
As we explore Joshua chapter 4, we are taught that reminders of God's faithfulness can help spur on conversations about His grace. What are some meaningful reminders for you of how you were saved by faith in Jesus and His work on the cross. Video recorded at Grapevine, Texas.

messageRegarding Grammar:

This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

Nico Spalinger: [00:00:00] Good morning, everyone. How are you? What a joy to be in the house of the Lord and praise his name together. We are the Spalinger family, Nico, and my wife, Becca, and we are here to welcome you and read the word. We work as global workers with Wycliffe Bible translators, so we have the privilege of serving with our gifts and talents. We don't do the translations ourselves, but we work on fonts and other related software so everyone can have access to the Word of God. We want all nations to join in the worship and praise God for who He is.

Becca Spalinger: [00:00:38] On behalf of all the global workers in the communities they serve, we thank you very much for your support in prayer and finances. Your involvement as a church body in God's mission has a lasting impact in many countries, and since we are privileged to have the word in our own language, let's read Joshua chapter 4, verses 20 to 24 together, "It was there at Gilgal that Joshua piled up the twelve stones taken from the Jordan River. 21Then Joshua said to the Israelites, “In the future your children will ask, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 22Then you can tell them, ‘This is where the Israelites crossed the Jordan on dry ground."

Nico Spalinger: [00:01:13] "For the LORD your God dried up the river right before your eyes, and he kept it dry until you were all across, just as he did at the Red Seac when he dried it up until we had all crossed over. 24He did this so all the nations of the earth might know that the LORD’s hand is powerful, and so you might fear the LORD your God forever.”.

Nico Spalinger: [00:01:36] Let's pray. Heavenly Father, your name is majestic over all the earth. One day, all nations will come to you and praise you for all the wonders you have done. Thank you for your word and all that we can learn from it. Thank you, because you revealed yourself and you have this beautiful story of redemption for everyone. Thank you for what the Bible tells us and how everything points us to Jesus, the Light of the Nations. We have forgiveness and hope through him and his sacrifice on the cross, and that's for every nation on earth. Help us listen to your word today. Help us remember, our memory sometimes fails, help us remember how great and powerful you are so that it may inspire us to live our lives according to your will. And when our children ask us about you, help us answer. Help us, give us the words that will speak to them, inspire us also to witness to others, may it be here or all the way to the ends of the earth in your name. Amen.

Video: [00:02:55] There's a story about a river. The Book of Joshua tells the story of a river that stood between God's people and their promised land of God, making a way where an impossible divide seemed inescapable. It tells a story of God's faithfulness to his people. It holds their commandments and our calling to never forget. Not a single foot, not one was wet when God led the Israelites through the Jordan River, and God gave Joshua instructions for how they should mark the place, 12 stones for 12 tribes. 12 stones to remember because we simply forget even the greatest of miracles. And if we don't pass on the stories of God's faithfulness, how will the ones coming behind us know that God spoke. When your children ask you what are these stones for? You'll say the flow of the Jordan was stopped in front of the chest of the covenant of God as it crossed the Jordan stopped in its tracks. These stones are a permanent memorial for the people of Israel. Thousands of years later God parted the waters once and for all through Jesus. He parted the waters so that not one of our feet will get wet as we reach for the very face of our Savior. He has made a way, every song, a stone. Every lyric, a light marked the places where he's parted the water. We sing loud for our children, we stack stones for the ones who need a strong reminder now, and to recount it later to generations to come. We sing great is face. God, great is your faithfulness.

Ross Sawyers: [00:05:06] If you turn in your Bible to Joshua chapter 4. We've been hanging out in the book of Joshua, it's the sixth book of the Bible. For the last few weeks, and we'll spend the fall basically going chapter through chapter of this part of God's word. And today we find ourselves in Joshua 4.

Ross Sawyers: [00:05:26] Before we hang out there, and the Scripture will be on the screen for those who might be newer. If you don't have the Scripture with you, then you can track along that way. On this Labor Day weekend, I think it's good to think for a moment what the point is of Labor Day. It might appear obvious to some, and I'd like to add maybe some deeper meaning to it as well. In the late 1800s, the idea was put forth to have a day set aside during the year that would celebrate the labor force in America to celebrate how working hard and working together made the nation a great nation. The day has been set, it's a day for us to remember the value of work, and for us as Christians, I would say that there's something underneath that value of labor and work, and it's that God himself designed us that way, that he designed things in such a way that we would work six days and rest on the seventh. That's his design for us, and I think it's interesting across time and in cultures that the more time we have on our hands, it seems to me the more trouble we find. And so I wonder if God's design is such even to help manage the trouble our broken hearts tend to lead us towards. But six days of work, God's the designer of the plan.

Ross Sawyers: [00:07:04] And then I would say that as we think about Labor Day, that we think about the motivation for our work, and there are a number of motivations for our work. There's the motivation to make money so we can take care of our family. There's the motivation to make money so that we can do the fun things we want to do. There's the motivation to make money so we can give to be able to help where people need help. There are a number of motivations. Ultimately, though, Colossians 3:23 should be the motivator of our heart as followers of Jesus, it says, "Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men." And so the greatest motivation for our work as Christians is to work as if we're working for God. And when he's our reason and he's our motivator, when we're having bad days at work or we're not loving our job, or we are loving our job, regardless, always we can give it our best because it's our best for God today in our work. So whatever you do, do your work heartily as for the Lord rather than for men.

Ross Sawyers: [00:08:11] And if I could add one more layer to labor and think about this in a different way or another way. God has also invited us as followers of Jesus to labor for the sake of the Gospel, for the sake of his name, for people to know him, and for people to follow him and love him. So there are a number of ways when I think about Labor Day that we can think about what this day reminds us of.

Ross Sawyers: [00:08:44] Now, what does this have to do with Joshua chapter 4? I want us to think around a big idea of meaningful reminders in Joshua 4, and there have been days that have been set apart in our country to help us remember significant moments, so we don't forget. Well, God has done the same thing when there are meaningful moments in time. He invites us to create things that will be reminders of what it is that he's done. And we'll find that in Joshua chapter 4.

Ross Sawyers: [00:09:20] The way we arrived at this spot if you're newer, and what we're doing at the beginning of Joshua, Moses had been the leader of the children of Israel for 40-plus years. Now he's died and it's next, who's up next? Joshua has been prepared to be the leader. Now, Joshua is next, he's in line to be the leader. God reasserts to him that he's promised a land for the people and Joshua will be the one to deliver them into that land. In Joshua 1, 8, and 9, I've encouraged you to memorize these two verses, it's the theme of Joshua. It says, “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success. 9“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” That will resonate and ring through all of Joshua.

Ross Sawyers: [00:10:26] In chapter 2, we find an unlikely person that God uses to assure his people that the land is theirs. He chooses a harlot to be a part of his redemptive plan, which is incredibly hopeful for all of us today that God takes the most unlikely and broken of people and they become significant parts of what He's doing.

Ross Sawyers: [00:10:49] In chapter 3, they've come to the Jordan River, it's flood season and the river is running strong, there's no way to get across it apart from a miracle. God says what he'll do, he causes the water to stand up in a heap about 20 miles up, and then 2 million plus people cross on dry ground on that Jordan River that God has stopped.

Ross Sawyers: [00:11:13] That brings us to chapter 4, and there are moments in time when God does things so significant in our lives or in the lives of a community of people that he simply says, pause, and worship, and build a memorial because we don't want to forget this moment. And we do have tendencies to forget, and God has given us a way through meaningful reminders to remember. Those significant moments and things he's done which will encourage our hearts for what God will do in the future as well. At the end of our time today, we'll take the Lord's Supper. And I say this in part for those who are online, that you can be prepared for whatever you might have that could serve as the elements for the broken body and the shed blood of Christ. And this is one of the more meaningful reminders that we can be a part of as a community of faith, and we'll do that at the end of our time and maybe even listen to how what happens in Joshua points us to what we're to do to remember what Christ did for us. There are four things that I see in chapter 4 that help us know what meaningful reminders are.

Ross Sawyers: [00:12:39] And the first thing I would say is they're personal, they've been experienced, and when it's been experienced and it's personal, then it becomes meaningful. Let's anchor ourselves to the Scripture in chapter 4, verses 1 through 10, "Now when all the nation had finished crossing the Jordan, the LORD spoke to Joshua, saying." And this is the pattern we see all through Joshua, by the way, Joshua is somehow spending time with God and God speaks to him and lets him know what he needs to do next. And then Joshua brings it to the people and says, this is what God's saying, and then we need to celebrate today what's happening in chapters 3 and 4, and really chapters 1 and 2, because so often in the Scriptures we're talking about failures and disobedience, but they're obeying God right now and all kinds of good things are happening because they are.

Ross Sawyers: [00:13:34] And these are actually chapters where we just say, okay, this is really cool, this is what happens when we get behind what God is saying to do. And he says in verse 2, “Take for yourselves twelve men from the people, one man from each tribe." And this is the beauty of a book study, in chapter 3, verse 12, we saw that God told them, “Now then, take for yourselves twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one man for each tribe." So he'd already said to them, select a representative from the 12 tribes that comprised the nation of Israel, and now he's about to tell these 12 men what it is they're going to do.

Ross Sawyers: [00:14:12] Why have they been selected? Verse 3, "He commanded them, saying, ‘Take up for yourselves twelve stones from here out of the middle of the Jordan, from the place where the priests’ feet are standing firm, and carry them over with you and lay them down in the lodging place where you will lodge tonight.” Now they're understanding their task, they're to take 12 stones from the middle of the river, and the priests are standing in the middle on the dry ground of the Jordan River, where God is holding the water. The ark of the covenant that represents the presence of God is with them, and now these 12 men are going to go back into the water where they're standing to take and get stones that they're to stack.

Ross Sawyers: [00:14:57] But we want to note here, that the priests are standing firm. Whenever I read in scripture that phrase of stand firm, it gives me pause, the priests are trusting God to hold the water. And there they have the Ark of the Covenant with them and the presence of God among them and they're standing firm on dry ground. In First Peter 5:12, at the very end of that letter that Peter writes, he encourages those who are following him to stand firm in the true grace of God. The place where our feet can stand firm today in a really shaky world is in the grace of God at the foot of the cross under what Jesus has done on our behalf. Our ground is firm and solid at the foot of the cross, and we rest in the waters of his grace. Stand firm, we can be like the priests and stand firm in the grace of God.

Ross Sawyers: [00:16:10] "So Joshua called the twelve men whom he had appointed from the sons of Israel, one man from each tribe; 5and Joshua said to them, “Cross again to the ark of the LORD your God into the middle of the Jordan, and each of you take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Israel." He's chosen 12 of them, there's 12 tribes, you're to take 12 stones. They weren't to pick little pebbles or little rocks, they had to carry the stones on their shoulder, they were big rocks. And they were about to have a memorial and a reminder of what it is that God had just done. And they were going to stack some big rocks to make sure nobody forgot what it is that God did. So I don't know about you, but from a trust factor, they've already trusted that God would be true to what He said. He's got the water held, the ground is dry, everybody's come across. You got to feel good about it, we're on the other side, now 12 guys have to go back in, I'm sure they trusted. But how often do we see God do something amazing in our lives, and ten minutes later, we're fearful again? We already forgot he did this, and now we're kind of scared to do this. You might be wondering; I wonder when he's going to let that water go. But they trusted, and they came back in on the dry ground in the middle of the Jordan to get the stones.

Ross Sawyers: [00:18:00] Verse six, now we're told why, “Let this be a sign among you, so that when your children ask later, saying, ‘What do these stones mean to you?" This is a fantastic question, the stones are going to be set up as a reminder, a memorial, it will be meaningful and it's to stoke the curiosity of their kids so that when their kids see these stacked stones, they're going to ask, hey, dad, what's that mean to you? Don't miss that part of the question, not what does this mean, what does it mean to you? It's a meaningful reminder because it's personal. So what does it mean to you?

Ross Sawyers: [00:18:48] What if I were to walk into your home, or to your office, or your classroom, or got in your car, what are reminders that are in those places that would stoke curiosity in me? And I would say, what does that mean to you? Not just why is that in there? What does it mean to you? Reminders are meaningful when they're personal. What does it mean to you? Well, God's gracious, he just lays out for them what to say when the children ask the question, "You shall say to them, ‘Because the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD; when it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off.’ So these stones shall become a memorial to the sons of Israel forever.” We don't ever want to forget what God has just done in cutting off the waters of the Jordan River so that 2 million plus can walk across. Verse 8, Thus the sons of Israel did as Joshua commanded."

Ross Sawyers: [00:20:07] Don't you love it when your children just do what you say? It's just so much more pleasant when it rolls that way. So they did it, God said this, Joshua relayed it, and they said, okay. "They took up twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, just as the LORD spoke to Joshua, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Israel; and they carried them over with them to the lodging place and put them down there." They've come out of the water or off the dry ground of the Jordan River, they've taken them to the place where they're to take them, the stones.

Ross Sawyers: [00:20:41] Verse 9 is actually, there's debate around verse 9, and I'm not going to be able to answer the debate today, I'm going to leave this one for you. And it's because I couldn't land it myself, so I'm not ducking anything, I am just being honest, I don't know. "Then Joshua set up twelve stones in the middle of the Jordan at the place where the feet of the priests who carried the ark of the covenant were standing, and they are there to this day." Here's the debate, did God ask him to set up two stacks of stones? In verse 9, it would sure seem that they were to take 12 stones from the middle of the Jordan on the dry ground, and then when the water flows over it, you're not going to be able to see those stones, but there's a reminder in the middle of the river. And clearly, there will be a reminder on dry ground, so is there two, or is there one? Wherever you land it, the point is it's to be a memorial forever to remember what God did in stopping up the river so they could cross.

Ross Sawyers: [00:21:46] Verse 10, "For the priests who carried the ark were standing in the middle of the Jordan until everything was completed that the LORD had commanded Joshua to speak to the people, according to all that Moses had commanded Joshua. And the people hurried and crossed." I don't know about you; I would have hurried as well to make sure you got across.

Ross Sawyers: [00:22:08] Now, what are meaningful reminders for you? What are those things that are personal that are either in your home or wherever I've talked about? What are those? I started looking for my, for me as I studied this week, what are those things for me? And I realized afresh that I've got them all on my desk, we don't have offices here, so our offices are at home, and in my office on my desk I have a number of things that are meaningful reminders for me. And one of those, and you can't see it, but I gave it a shot, it's a picture of my wife praying in the Garden of Gethsemani in 2019, and it is one of my favorite pictures of my wife. Now. I should have been praying also, but instead, I took a picture of her praying. But my wife has an incredibly intimate relationship with Christ, she's substantive in who she is, and she is a praying woman. And I just love looking at that picture on my windowsill, and I'm just grateful to God that he gave me a wife who loves God so deeply and prays so intimately, and this is a meaningful reminder for me. I've had that picture there since 2019. And then I also have a picture of seven men that are in my life that have been in my life for a long time. Some in my family, some friends, and 15 years ago, because Barrett was 13, we were at a men's retreat together. It's the only time that I can remember that these seven guys were in the same place, and I've just cherished this picture ever since because these are men that God's put in my life, among many others, that love God deeply, that challenge me, hold me accountable, and that I've done life with almost my whole Christian life. And it just reminds me every day of God's graciousness in giving me these men in my life. And then the third thing that I took that was very personal is this bracelet, that's a fishers of men kind of bracelet. My brother Lloyd died of Covid in 2020, and he was one of the boldest, unapologetic followers of Jesus I've known, you didn't cross his path without getting something about Jesus. Well, these bracelets he would buy, and I think they're fairly costly, but he would buy them and wear them. And if you asked him about it, he would tell you about Jesus, take the bracelet off, and give it to you, and then he'd just go buy more and keep giving them away. Now, somehow, I managed not to get one from him, but Jay Purchase in our church a great friend of Lloyd's, and right after Lloyd died, he got me this. So I keep this on my desk as a reminder, a meaningful reminder of my brother. But not just my brother, but that I will never waver in sharing Jesus with somebody else, and that I would be as bold as he was in doing the same. What are meaningful reminders for you, significant things that have happened, that you have visual reminders of what it is that God did and that it spurs you on as you move ahead? So when we think about meaningful reminders, let's think about the fact that they are personal.

Ross Sawyers: [00:26:45] The second thing I would say about reminders is, if they're meaningful, they're unifying. We often think individually, but God has designed us as a community. And when we think about Joshua, it's communal, this promise is for all of them. It's not just Joshua, it's for all of them, and it's unifying when we have reminders that speak to what God's done for the community.

Ross Sawyers: [00:27:12] Verse 11, "And when all the people had finished crossing, the ark of the LORD and the priests crossed before the people. 12The sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh crossed over in battle array before the sons of Israel, just as Moses had spoken to them; 13about 40,000 equipped for war, crossed for battle before the LORD to the desert plains of Jericho." What's happening here? All the people crossed, they're unified in this, it's a unified effort. All of them are crossing two and a half of the tribes, their land is actually on the east side of the Jordan River, so they don't have to cross the Jordan River to get the land they were promised. But this is a unified effort to take all of the land that God has given them. So they're unified in their effort.

Ross Sawyers: [00:27:58] Verse 14, "On that day the LORD exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel; so that they revered him, just as they had revered Moses all the days of his life." In Joshua 3:7, God had promised he would exalt Joshua. Why? So the whole group of people would know that God was with him, and God was the one delivering the land. They are unified people behind the leader that God has chosen for them, and they're moving in the direction that God has called for them.

Ross Sawyers: [00:28:38] Verse. 15, "Now the LORD said to Joshua, 16“Command the priests who carry the ark of the testimony that they come up from the Jordan.” 17So Joshua commanded the priests, saying, “Come up from the Jordan.” 18It came about when the priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD had come up from the middle of the Jordan, and the soles of the priests’ feet were lifted up to the dry ground, that the waters of the Jordan returned to their place, and went over all its banks as before." God is a sovereign God; he caused the waters to stop. The priest stood firm in the middle with the Ark of the Covenant, and the people crossed. They come back in, get the 12 stones, to stack and build the memorial as a reminder. Now it's time for the priest to come off the dry ground, onto the dry ground that is dry ground, that'll stay that way. That last priest steps, and here come the waters. God's timing is perfect, they trusted and took the step of faith, and the waters came rushing down. I wonder if they just stood there and looked at that for a minute, just seeing all of God. Wow, did y'all just see that? He really did it, he stopped it, and as soon as we're out, it's there flowing, there's no other way. This was a unified effort, they were all working together, and they were all laboring together in following after God. And when there's a unified effort, amazing things happen. when it's the unity God calls for.

Ross Sawyers: [00:30:38] What are those kinds of things that help us to think about meaningful reminders that are unifying? We live in a fractured country. That's not new news to anybody. There are more layers of division than we can shake a stick at. And yet there are a number of people who are attempting to bring about unity, and the attempts to bring about unity are good, it's just that none of them will work. That attempt was made by Abraham Lincoln, and we have a memorial for Washington, D.C. You're going to find a number of memorials that help us understand the history of our nation. Abraham Lincoln gave it a shot. There were a number of things going on in the Civil War, but at least one major piece of that was to free slaves. And there was an attempt to unify whether everyone would agree with that or not, to unify the nation and give freedom to everyone, and that's a reminder for us. 60 years ago, on August 28th, this past Monday, 1963, Martin Luther King stood in front of the Lincoln Memorial in front of 250,000 people and read his I Have a Dream speech. Where he, too, was attempting to unify a nation around this idea. He had a dream that one day we'd be a nation that did not judge people by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.

Ross Sawyers: [00:32:57] A few years ago on Martin Luther King's, 50th anniversary of his death, I was in Memphis, Tennessee. The Lorraine Motel is where he was assassinated, and the National Civil Rights Museum is now at that motel. I have to tell you, that the two most meaningful museums I've ever been to are the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC, and the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee. I think they did a phenomenal job there. But they help us to remember, they're meaningful reminders of unifying attempts or efforts. But I said, when we think about unifying, we can try to unify around all kinds of things, the only place where genuine and true unity will ever come is at the foot of the cross, that's the one place where we will come and we have a shot at unity. So while there are many attempts made, the place where it will actually occur will come when the hearts of people are changed and we're unified at the foot of the cross.

Ross Sawyers: [00:34:20] Right now we have a unifying effort, and it's going to be memorialized by a stack of stones. But there's a third word I think that's crucial when we think about meaningful reminders, and that's they're generational; they're personal, they're unifying, and they're generational. Verse 19, "Now the people came up from the Jordan on the tenth of the first month and camped at Gilgal on the eastern edge of Jericho." These are the kinds of verses in scripture that we sometimes move past, but this is important. The 10th day that's described here, if we go back to the exodus and when the Passover happened, is the same day that the children of Israel selected the innocent one-year-old unblemished Lamb that would be sacrificed four days later. So the same time that they would come and emerge out of the Jordan River is the same time that the Passover lamb was selected. Gilgal was on the eastern edge of Jericho, this was strategic. They'd come across the Jordan River. The river is now behind them. So nobody can come across that way, they're protected that way. In Gilgal, they see nothing but plains so they can see if anyone's coming towards them to attack.

Ross Sawyers: [00:35:39] And so that's their base of operations is Gilgal, and it's there that "Those twelve stones which they had taken from the Jordan, Joshua set up at Gilgal. 21He said to the sons of Israel, “When your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, ‘What are these stones?’ 22then you shall inform your children, saying, ‘Israel crossed this Jordan on dry ground." Again, we come back to the personal question, and it's generational. What about these stones? Let's go back to verse 6, what about these stones and what do they mean to you, Dad? What does it mean to you? What does it mean? Granddad, can you tell me about these stones? It stokes curiosity. "And you tell them, ‘Israel crossed this Jordan on dry ground.’ 23“For the LORD your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you had crossed, just as the LORD your God had done to the Red Sea." The same way he parted the Red Sea when they crossed and we're out of Egyptian slavery and brought to freedom, and he dried it up before us until we had crossed.

Ross Sawyers: [00:36:56] Now, can I just note in verse 23 that what they're to say is not, you should have seen what we did that day. Man, we camped right by the river, and we figured out we ought to wait a couple of days and just see if things dry up a little bit, and it did. And then we went across it, and we just looked back and said, wow, look what we just did. No, God is the subject, Look what God did, he dried up the riverbed. What if God became the subject of more of our sentences? And I'm talking grammar, that God is the subject of the sentence before the noun and not us. What if today when I talk about the rain that came over Hurst, I'm not sure it went over the rest of you, I live in Hurst. God had favor on Hurst today, but we received rain, it wasn't just drops, we received good rain. And that's how I talk about it, God gave us rain this morning. Mother Nature didn't give us rain, God gave us rain. He's a subject. What did God do yesterday? What did you see God do, and just talk about it as naturally as you talk about anything else, this is what God did. Dad, what are these stones? Oh, let me tell you about God, that's a day I'm never going to forget. Let me tell you about that, this is what God did. When the generations ask, we talk about God.

Ross Sawyers: [00:38:56] And by the way, this is the first of seven stone memorials that will be set up just in Joshua alone, there are multiple moments that they will mark and pause on what God did. Well, this summer we did Bible study in Deuteronomy at our church, and in Deuteronomy 6, we're told that as parents, and I would say whoever has children in their midst, this is our responsibility, whether it's whatever guardian you are or whatever grandparent you are or parent you are. And this is what we're to do in Deuteronomy 6, verse 7, “You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up." When do I talk about what God did? I talk about it when my kids wake up, I talk about it as we're walking through the day, I talk about it when they sit down, I talk about it when they stand up, and I talk about it when they go to bed. There's no question in my kids' minds by the time they go to bed, God must have done something around here, because that's all I'm hearing about. But that's what he says, you're going to let them know how much God loves them, and they're to love God. Verse 8, “You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead." So there is something to be on their hand, and then there are little boxes on their forehead. Try that one as a meaningful reminder in your home, put a box around your head, and I promise your kid is going to ask you a question. Hey, Dad, why do you have the box on your forehead? Well, it's a reminder to love the Lord your God with all your mind, and with all your heart, and with all your soul, and then love your neighbor the same. Got it, Dad, you can take the box off your head now. What else does he say? In verse 9, “You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates." Reminders everywhere, on you, on your home. reminders of what God's done.

Ross Sawyers: [00:41:03] I tried to figure out when my sons were growing up what would be a way, what will be a physical reminder of what my hope would be for them as men. And I bought two swords, I don't even know that they know I had them, they probably ended up being more reminders for me. And after a few years, somebody mounted them for me on a wood background, and so I had them hanging in my office for a long time. Whenever I look at those two swords, I have two sons it was a reminder for me, I'm praying for my boys that they'll be warriors in God's kingdom, that they would wield the sword of the spirit, and they would love his word and they know how to wield it well. Warriors for him. Just reminders in my office. God, will you do this with my boys? Will you give them a hunger and a thirst for your word, the sword of the Spirit? Let them know how to use it and let them win in this world at the cross.

Ross Sawyers: [00:42:25] Recently, as so many of you have written your stories, your spiritual journeys, and so many of you have shared your written story with your kids for the first time ever. I think that's a pretty cool reminder of what God's done, just to have your story in writing for your kids to see what God did in you. And I'm sure the creative people will come up with all kinds of neat ways that you make that look cool, but the coolest piece is the content of the story, and you're not the center of the story, God is. What if we memorialized our own stories and passed it to the next generation and they would pass it to the generation after that?

Ross Sawyers: [00:43:19] Now, oftentimes I'll talk about this, and I know it can be discouraging depending on what time of life you came into a relationship with Jesus. And we can have regret because we didn't raise our kids a particular way, or we just did things in a way that we really didn't have a God focus at all. But there's no reason to live in that regret or that condemnation, we can only start when God starts with us in our hearts are changed, and then we start to live it out from there. And God's gracious that today is the day we start if we haven't, today is the day we continue.

Ross Sawyers: [00:43:55] I was with a friend a few weeks ago, and he said this saying, and then we talked about it. And I thought, I hope it's not from a cult or something, we couldn't figure out where it was from, but it made a lot of sense to me. And I think should be encouraging to parents, grandparents, and whoever, today, "The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago." Apparently, that gets said in Ray's house. "The next best time to plant a tree is today." It's not too late, plant the tree today. Start planting the reminders today and move on. Another one of our staff guys has taught me, to own it, learn from it, and move on from it. I think it's a good way to roll. There's no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, we learn, and we move on. Plant the tree today for the generations.

Ross Sawyers: [00:45:07] The last thing I would say is it's not just to pass to the generations to die in your home, it's global. And that's my fourth word, for God-sized reminders that are meaningful, that are also global. Verse 24 of Joshua 4, "That all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the LORD is mighty, so that you may fear the LORD your God forever.” Why do we have these reminders that are meaningful of what God has done? Why do we pass them down to the generations? We do it so that through the generations, then it'll go global. God is a global God, he is for every tribe, tongue, and nation, and that's who he's for. And when we see in the scriptures from beginning to end, it is all about God's name, it's all about God's glory, it's about other people's fearing the name of God. In Psalm 67 it says, "God bless us, and cause His face to shine upon us. 2That Your way may be known on the earth, your salvation among all nations. 3Let the peoples praise You, O God; Let all the peoples praise You. 4Let the nations be glad and sing for joy; For You will judge the peoples with uprightness and guide the nations on the earth. 5Let the peoples praise You, O God; let all the peoples praise You. 6The earth has yielded its produce; God, our God, blesses us. Why? "So that the ends of the earth may fear him." Why does God bless you and bless me? Not so it ends on you and ends on me, not that it ends on your own generation and my own generation, but it goes through the generations, and it goes global. God intended for what He did with Israel, for them to be a light to all the nations, and they didn't do it. But there would be one who would come out of them, that would be a light for all the nations, Jesus Christ, Jesus crucified, Jesus risen, for all those who have faith in him and repent, trust him for salvation, and become a child of his, a part of that every tribe, tongue, and nation.

Ross Sawyers: [00:47:40] And then we go. In Matthew 28 we're told to "Go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” It's a global message that God has given us to be a part of. What are those things that are meaningful reminders of God's global heart?

Ross Sawyers: [00:48:14] A few years ago, I went to the Bible Museum in Washington, DC, and there was one floor, and then on that floor was every translation of the Bible for all the people groups in the world that have a translation in their heart language. And then there was shelf after shelf after shelf of yellow books like this, and this is what was in them. Can you see that? If you see blank pages, you see it. These Bibles represent a people group today that does not have God's word in their heart language. And I came back home, and I asked somebody to make one for me, and this sits on my desk because I want to be reminded every day that not everybody can open their Bible like I can. My Bible is on my left, this is on my right, and my prayer is that the nations will all have translations of the Scripture in their heart language so they can grab their cup of coffee and read the scriptures as well. But I'm also encouraged because I also have on my desk this, and this is a translation in the heart language of an unreached people they now have this translation through the funding of what 121 is done, and we have a heart for people to have scripture translated in their heart language. And then I have this one page of scripture as a reminder for me of how many of our brothers and sisters in Christ today do not have access to a Bible, or they may have access to a Bible, but because of the places where they are so dangerous, they can just tear out a page and just trade that page around with each other, this is all they can do. And I have this Arabic letter N on my desk because people in Muslim countries have been forced to paint this on their houses because that N stands for Nazareth, Jesus of Nazareth, it says you're a Christian. And they're not putting it on there so they can pass this on to the generations, they're putting it on there because they're about to be a persecuted people, and this reminds me to pray for all my persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ all over the world. You're wondering how I get any work done on my desk. When I was in college, I went on a mission trip to Ecuador. I was on the streets of Quito up towards the mountains, and I saw a man that looked like this, and it just reminds me of all the vulnerable and oppressed all over the world. You know, I want my heart to stay tender towards who God loves, and we'll continue to be a part of what God's doing across the world. My wife got this cross for me in Guatemala several years ago, I have it on my desk, and it's a reminder to me every day that at 16 years old, God totally changed the trajectory of my life through what He did on the cross and gifting me with faith to believe it.

Ross Sawyers: [00:52:07] You see if you'd seen my room before I was 16 years old, you wouldn't see things like this in it. You'd have seen green shag carpet, a queen size waterbed, a blacklight, a poster of Farrah Fawcett Majors on the ceiling, a beer can collection on the shelves, an eight-track player right in the middle of it with my Grease tape ready to be played again and again. But that all changed, this is that transition moment for me, and I haven't quit being grateful for 43 years that he would be that graceful and that merciful to me. And I hope we can spread that same grace and mercy to as many as he'll allow us.

Ross Sawyers: [00:53:09] One of the most meaningful things we can do as a community to tie this up, is to do the Lord's Supper together. It's personal, it's for those who know Jesus, and it's unifying because all of us together when we take it, we're showing our unity at the foot of the cross. It's generational, households know Jesus. It's global, today, brothers and sisters in Christ all over the world will be taking the Lord's Supper together. The way we'll do that today is we'll have people spread all across the room with the elements. And we think about meaningful reminders, the cup is a reminder of the shed blood of Christ, a cup of juice. And then the broken cracker is a reminder of the broken body of Christ, that he voluntarily and sacrificially laid his life down on the cross. When we take it, we're doing what Jesus said in Luke, to do this in remembrance of me. So when we think of some of the most meaningful reminders that we have, it's the Lord's Supper today because it reminds us of what Christ did. It's for those who are followers of Jesus, if you're not a follower of Christ, and you're contemplating that, I hope this will be a time to really wrestle that through a little bit more. Why would you not follow after him? And then we want to be careful to take it in a worthy manner, according to First Corinthians 11, and just make sure in our hearts that there's not any unconfessed sin that we're aware of or any sin we're just kind of hanging on to and feel entitled to. We all battle it, we just know today we're free of it in Christ.

Ross Sawyers: [00:55:04] So I'm going to pray, and then in a moment, whenever you're ready, you feel free to go to one of these people and you can get the elements, and you can go back to your seats or stay off to the side. You can take it together or separately; however, you'd like to do it. And then Travis will lead us in a song as well.

Ross Sawyers: [00:55:22] Father, thank you for our time this morning, we are so appreciative of your word. And God, I pray you'll continue to tether us to yourself. And God, I pray that your word itself would always be a meaningful reminder to us of you revealing yourself to us, making yourself known in that life just rests and resides in the way you make yourself known in it. Thank you, Father, for the stories that you tell us in the Old Testament that you give us to encourage us and give us hope. And God help us to know in our own homes and our offices, our classrooms, our cars, whatever it is that you choose to do, will you work in us in a way that we can have really meaningful and significant reminders of moments where you just show up in ways that we couldn't even fathom? And God, let this be deeply personal for everyone before you, and that it would just stoke curiosity for kids and grandkids and nieces and nephews and friends, and whoever comes into these environments and say, what does that mean and what does that mean to you? And God help us be ready to say, oh, I'm glad you asked, this is what God did, and I've never been the same. So, Lord, we commit these minutes to you and pray that as we take the Lord's Supper together, that you'd be honored as we reflect and think about your graciousness towards us at the cross. And I pray this in Jesus' name.

Recorded in Grapevine, Texas.
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121 Community Church
2701 Ira E Woods Ave.
Grapevine, Texas 76051