Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: How well do your children know the stories of how God has worked in your life?

Leslie Basham: This is Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy: As we continue looking at the life of Joshua on today’s Revive Our Hearts, we’ll see how important it is to tell stories of God’s goodness to the next generation.

I love hearing stories of how God is using the ministry of Revive Our Hearts in the lives of women. One woman emailed and said:

I’ve been thankful for the ministry of Revive Our Hearts since 2008, when God used the first True Woman Conference to break me of my bitterness and anger towards Him and my husband. Life has been so different for our family ever since! That was a life-changing event! Although there are still struggles, I am quicker to say, "Yes, Lord," and I know Jesus more deeply now, so I press into Him and let His grace change my heart more quickly.

And this woman went on to explain how she’s leading Bible studies with resources she has found through Revive Our Hearts. She’s taking what she received and is passing it on to others. Has used Revive Our Hearts in your life in some particular way? There’s a special group instrumental in making it possible for you to hear the program and to be impacted through this outreach. We call them our Monthly Partner Team.

These friends help make Revive Our Hearts possible in three ways: first, they pray for the ministry; second, they give monthly to help support our expenses; third, they tell others about the ministry and the message.

In order for Revive Our Hearts to continue airing across the U.S. and spreading around the world by means of Internet, we're asking the Lord to provide at least 800 new monthly partners here in September.

When you become a partner this month, we want to say "thank you" by sending you a copy of my new book The Wonder of His Name. In this book you'll find thirty-two devotionals, each on a different name of Jesus. This is the brand new, hardcover version of this book that's a special gift edition. Timothy Botts created the artwork, and this is a resource that will add beauty to your home and will help point people to Jesus.

As a monthly partner, you'll also receive a free conference registration each year. That can include True Woman '14 coming up in October.

There are other ways we stay connected to our monthly partners, including a letter that I send out each month giving an update of what's going on in the ministry and what God has put on my heart. Each month you'll also get a special devotional we've created just for our partners. It's called "Daily Reflections."

As you invest in this ministry, our heart is to invest in your life so that you can experience greater freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ.

So if God has used this ministry in your life, would you ask Him if He would want you to join the Monthly Partner Team? You can visit us at ReviveOurHearts.com to sign up as a monthly partner. Or you can give us a call at 1–800–569–5959.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Thursday, September 25, 2014.

Imagine you're in the craft store looking down the scrapbooking aisle and finding giant boulders? Those are good for marking memories, as we’ll discover in the series "Lessons from the Life of Joshua (Part 8): Before We Conquer." 

Nancy: When I was about eleven or twelve, my parents took their then six children (a seventh was born a little bit later) on a trip to Washington, D.C. I don’t know what you think of when you think of Washington, D.C., but I think of monuments and memorials, lots of them. You can’t miss them. They’re everywhere.

These buildings, towers, and edifices memorialize important people and events in our nation’s history. That trip was my first exposure to sites like the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument. Today you can visit the Holocaust Memorial Museum or the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial.

Why were these monuments and memorials built, anyway? They were built to remind us of significant markers, important aspects of our nation’s history, of our heritage as Americans.

We’re following the Israelites as they’ve just crossed over the Jordan River into the Promised Land. It’s interesting to me that the first order of business once they cross the river is not what you might expect. Let me begin reading in Joshua 4. I want you to see what they did.

When all the nation had finished passing over the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua, "Take twelve men from the people, from each tribe a man, and command them, saying, 'Take twelve stones from here out of the midst of the Jordan, from the very place where the priests’ feet stood firmly, and bring them over with you and lay them down in the place where you lodge tonight’” (Josh. 4:1–3).

Then go to verse 19 of chapter 4.

The people came up out of the Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, and they encamped at Gilgal on the east border of Jericho [just west of the Jordan, just east of Jericho]. And those twelve stones, which they took out of the Jordan, Joshua set up at Gilgal. (vv. 19–20).

So what is the first thing they do after crossing the Jordan River? What is the first thing God tells them to do? They set up a memorial of twelve stones that had been taken out of the river.

We know these weren’t pebbles. We don’t know how big they were. They probably weren’t little stones, because we read in another part of this passage that they carried them on their shoulders. So they were small enough for a man to lift, but large enough that it had to be hoisted up on their shoulders.

On first reading this chapter, if you would take time to read the entire chapter (which I hope that you will), it sounds like there were actually two memorials, each with twelve stones—one memorial in the Jordan River, and a second one at Gilgal where they set up camp west of the Jordan.

However, some commentators believe there was only one memorial, based on a variation in the translation of verse 9, and that the one memorial was at Gilgal. It doesn’t really matter for purposes of our discussion whether there was one or two. We know that there was at least one at Gilgal, which is where they camped out. The point is the same.

The purpose of a memorial, according to one dictionary I read, is “something designed to preserve the memory of a person, an event, etc.” A memorial is a sign. Joshua says in verse 6, “that this may be a sign among you.” It’s a symbol. It’s a picture. It’s a visible, physical sign.

A memorial is a reminder. Memorial; memory; to remember. It’s a reminder.

Why do we need memorials? Because we need to remember.

Why do we need to remember? Because we are prone to forget. We tend to forget what God has done for us, so we need memorials.

The purpose of this particular memorial just west of the Jordan was to be a reminder to three groups of people who are referenced in this chapter. I want to show you each of those groups.

First, this was a reminder to the current generation, those who had just crossed over the Jordan. They needed this reminder. Joshua says in verse 6, “that this may be a sign among you,” verse 24, “that you may fear the Lord your God forever.”

This was a reminder for the Children of Israel. Why did they need a reminder? They had just been across the Jordan. Do you think you could ever forget that?

But it’s amazing what we do forget and how soon we forget. The Children of Israel were going to face difficult times in Canaan. They were going to face difficult battles. And they would be tempted to become discouraged or to give up.

Gilgal (near Jericho), where they first camped after they crossed the Jordan, was going to be their base of operations during their conquest of the land. So they would go out. They would conquer a city. Then they would come back to Gilgal. Then they’d go out, conquer another city, and come back to Gilgal.

They came back there repeatedly for the next several years. They would often return, and every time they did, those twelve stones would be there. Every time they saw those stones, they would have this constant reminder of the power of God.

The stones would create in their mind a picture of what they had themselves experienced. They had walked across the Jordan on dry ground. They had followed the Ark of the Presence of the Lord across. They had stood west of the Jordan and seen those waters whoosh back as they came into the Promised Land.

This set of stones, this memorial, would be a constant reminder of what they had experienced. It would encourage and strengthen their hearts as they faced battles in the days ahead. It would remind them, “God did it before; God can do it again.”

The reminder was not only for this generation of Israelites, it was also for their children, for future generations who were not yet born, who had not yet experienced the power of God as their parents had. Those future generations needed a reminder as well.

This memorial would introduce them to their parents’ God. It would be a reminder to children and grandchildren yet to be born of their parents’ faith and of their parents’ instruction.

Verse 6 of chapter 4: “When your children ask in times to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you?’” They would see these stones lying there on the ground. “What is that? What is that pile of rocks there? What does that mean to you?”

Then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. (v. 7).

“Israel passed over this Jordan on dry ground. [This is part of what you’re to tell them.] For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you passed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which he dried up for us until we passed over” (v. 22–23).

So when the children would ask questions in days to come, “What do these rocks mean? Tell us about your faith. Tell us about your testimony. Tell us what God has done for you. What do these mean to you?” notice that the Children of Israel were not to send their children to the Levites for an answer.

“Go ask the priest. He’ll tell you about your faith.” The fathers, specifically, and the parents, generally, were responsible to share their own faith with their children.

“What do these stones mean to you, Dad? What do these stones mean to you, Mom? Tell us, what have you experienced? Tell us about your faith. Tell us about the ways of God.”

Parents were responsible and are still responsible to share with their own children the ways of God. That job is not anyone else’s primary responsibility more than yours.

Now, thank God for pastors. Thank God for Christian school teachers. Thank God for youth directors. Thank God for friends who will encourage your children in the right direction.

But no one on this earth has a greater responsibility than you do, Mom, to share your faith with your children, to tell them the story of God’s redemptive acts in this world, in His church, and in your life.

This memorial shows us the power of visual aids, of visual reminders. It’s not just the rocks. It’s not just the visual aid. The visual aid is no good without an explanation. And the explanation is your personal testimony.

So there are physical, tangible, visible, visual aids that you couple with your personal testimony. That’s the way you pass the baton of faith on from one generation to the next.

For your children who didn’t cross the Jordan, they need to experience the works of God in their own life, to have their own personal firsthand encounters with God, their own personal experiences of faith.

One of the things that will create hunger and thirst in their hearts to know the God of Israel, to know the God that you know and love, is as you point them to these visual reminders and tell them the stories of what God has done.

So this memorial was a reminder to the generation that crossed over the Jordan. It was a reminder to their children and future generations.

But it was also a reminder to other nations, to unbelievers. They needed this reminder. They needed to know the ways of God. These stones, this pile of rocks, was a testimony to the existence of God.

Verse 24, “So that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty.” Wouldn’t that be something that would be our desire today, as we see the encroachment of false religions, the encroachment of secularism and atheism?

Atheists these days are getting as much news and coverage, it seems, as Bible-believing Christians. Why should they be getting the coverage? What do we have—what memorials, what reminders, what evidences do we have—that will cause the peoples of the earth to know that the hand of the Lord is mighty?

This memorial in Joshua 4 was just the first of several memorials that you’ll find throughout the book of Joshua. I hope as we’re studying the life of Joshua that you’re reading through the book of Joshua with us.

As you read ahead, you may want to make a note in your Bible, as I’ve done in mine. I’ve just put a capital “M” with a little box around it in the margin of every place that I’ve found a memorial that was built in the book of Joshua.

There are several of those. (If you go to our website, ReviveOurHearts.com, you can find a list of those other memorials with the passage where they’re found.) Those memorials commemorated different things.

Memorials - 1. Crossing of the Jordan River - Joshua 4:1–9
                     2. Sin of Achan - Joshua 7:10–26
                     3. Fall of Ai - Joshua 8:1–29
                     4. Conquering of the five Amorite kings - Joshua 10:16–27

There are also things that we can commemorate or memorialize with memorials. They commemorated God’s provision, God’s protection, God’s blessing, the instruction of the Lord. “Here’s a marker, and here’s what God taught us at this place.”

Sometimes they commemorated the disciplining, chastening hand of God. If you look ahead to Joshua 7 (we’ll come to this passage in just a few days), you’ll see that the place where Achan and his family were stoned to death, there was a memorial built at that place.

Imagine the stories that were told to the next generation about that pile of rocks. “This is where God judged sin.” So sometimes those memorials can be a reminder of the disciplining hand of God.

There were memorials for lessons learned, for special encounters with God—visible, visual, physical reminders of these very important things that are part of our spiritual heritage.

As we think about memorials, these symbols themselves are often not inherently meaningful. A pile of rocks—there’s nothing special about those rocks. They’re meaningless to an unbeliever or someone who doesn’t have faith or doesn’t have eyes to see or doesn’t know the story. It’s just a pile of rocks.

But that pile of rocks points to something that is meaningful, something that is significant. So memorials are often common items with an uncommon meaning or story behind them.

You invest a story, a meaning into something that may itself be just as common as a pile of rocks. Those memorials are intended to serve as reminders.

I’ve had fun over the last couple of weeks as I’ve been preparing this session making a list of some of the memorials in my own life and some of the ways that people can make memorials to commemorate or memorialize important spiritual events or markers in your spiritual life.

One obvious type of memorial can be a journal. I hope that you do keep a journal.

I was talking to a friend who’s just been diagnosed with cancer, and I said, “I hope you’re writing down some of the things the Lord is showing you through this journey,” because there are many things the Lord is showing this man and his wife, who are dear friends of mine.

He said, “You know, it’s interesting. I just started journaling a few months ago for the first time in my life.” Now he has something he’s going to be journaling about that is going to be a testimony for his children and grandchildren of God’s deeds in his life, whatever the outcome of the cancer. He is encountering God, and those journals will be a memorial.

How many of you are into scrapbooking—Creative Memories or something like that? Why do you put those scrapbooks together? I know they take a lot of time. I know some of you are really creative with them.

You pull together those pictures and items to make a memorial, to help you remember. You have some of those old black-and-white photos that are now getting yellowed. (Some of you aren’t old enough to remember black-and-white photography!) You put those together because you want to remember significant events in your life.

My mother has in her house a good-sized family room. There are bookshelves on some parts of the walls, but every place where there aren’t bookshelves, there are photographs from floor to ceiling. And they’re framed. There are, I think, probably hundreds of photographs.

When you have seven children and ten grandchildren and a long, blessed life, that’s a lot of photos. I’ve got a baby picture up there and pictures that are everywhere in between that and more recent. But when people walk in that room, that room is a memorial room, and they want to look at the photos

When they come in my house, they want to see pictures of my family. “Now, tell me who that is. Tell me who that is.”

My mom’s family room is such a fun place to go back and remember important happenings and events in the life of our family.

Baby books can be a type of memorial that we make. Some of you have video, perhaps, of a child’s birth.

I remember being with a family who were close friends of mine. When their child was born, I was there with their other children at the hospital right after the birth. Somebody got a video camera, and we captured a prayer of dedication as the mom held that newborn baby.

That baby isn’t going to remember being born. That baby is now eighteen years old, and that baby can now, as a young adult, go back and look at that video footage and remember, “Here’s when my family dedicated me to the Lord,” and can see that memorial footage.

A number of years ago I gave to some of my friends Blessing Jars. I saw this in a catalog and I really liked it. It just says “Blessing” on the outside, and it’s just an empty jar.

Some of those friends have taken that empty Blessing Jar and periodically put in it little pieces of paper with answers to prayer. Then they take some time, perhaps at Thanksgiving, to take out those little pieces of paper and remember what God has done through the course of the year. The little Blessing Jar can become an important memorial.

My brother Mark wrote a book a couple of years ago. It’s called The Little Red Book of Wisdom. He said he wrote it if for no other reason than for his three children to know of the ways of God and the ways of wisdom.

I was talking with some other friends of mine who have young adult children. They read my brother’s book, and they said, “You know what? We want to do the same thing for our children. We’ll probably never publish this book, but we want to write down a record for our children of the things God has taught us about His ways over our years of walking with Him, and we want to give that to our children as a memorial.”

Memorials can also be observances or traditions that moor us to our heritage and to our faith. I have some friends who have five children, and on their children’s birthdays, one of the things they do is retell the story of that child’s birth day. They’re reminding their children of how God brought them into their family, and that becomes a meaningful tradition.

My mother was a classically trained singer with a gorgeous voice. Many years ago she made two albums (as recordings were called in those days). One was a Thanksgiving one. One was an Easter album.

On Thanksgiving and Easter, one of my traditions is that I like to replay the Thanksgiving or the Easter album just as a reminder of many of the aspects of my own personal heritage.

I want to encourage you, if you’ve been thinking as I’ve been talking, about some memorials in your life, to go to ReviveOurHearts.com. Go to the comment blog at the end of today’s transcript and record there a memorial that’s meaningful to you—some marker that you have—a visible or physical reminder, tradition, something you do to help remind you of the ways of God.

You know, there are two vital memorials for every believer. One is baptism. The other is the Lord’s Supper. Baptism is a reminder for us and a reminder for others of the wonder of salvation, an external picture of the internal work of God in our hearts.

The Lord’s Supper, 1 Corinthians 11:23–24 tells us that Jesus, “on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, ‘This is my body which is broken for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’” That phrase could be translated, “Do this as my memorial.”

The same thing with the cup, with the blood: “Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me [or as my memorial]. For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” (vv. 25–26).

Every time we see a baptism, every time we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, there’s a visible, physical memorial of the cross, of what Jesus Christ has done to give us salvation.

So these memorials are a means of testimony, a means of witness, a means of preserving our faith from one generation to the next. How well do your children know God’s story? Are you telling it to them?

Tell them about how God has dealt with you. Not only the successes.

  • Tell them about how you came to faith in Christ.
  • Tell them how you’ve stumbled. Share with them, at the appropriate time, how you’ve fallen and how God has had grace and mercy on you.
  • Tell them the story of your parents and grandparents, if there’s a Christian heritage there.
  • Tell them the story of the history of the people of God. Preserve the story—His story (history)—for generations to come by means of memorials that will outlive you.

“So these stones,” Joshua said, “shall be to the people a memorial forever” (Josh. 4:7). What are you doing to establish and to leave behind memorials, monuments to God’s faithfulness, reminding yourself and your children of His dealings in your life? What memorials have you established that will outlive you?

Leslie: I hope that message from Nancy Leigh DeMoss has inspired some ideas for marking spiritual milestones in your journey. That program is part of the series "Lessons from the Life of Joshua (Part 8): Before We Conquer." It’s been such a helpful series of teaching on accepting a God-sized task and then developing a heart ready to take that task on.

If you've missed any of these series of the life of Joshua, you can hear them at ReviveOurHearts.com. Tomorrow Nancy will continue talking about important markers that remind us of what God's done—markers like bread and water. Please be back tomorrow for Revive Our Hearts. Now let's pray with Nancy.

Nancy: Lord, thank You for the reminders—from a pile of rocks to a DVD to pictures on the wall to celebrations of the Lord’s Supper—reminders of who You are and the awesome things You’ve done.

Help us to be faithful in establishing these memorials and in passing on the story, the redemptive story of Your goodness and Your grace, from one generation to the next. I pray in Jesus’ name, amen.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version.

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