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We all need courage to face the many things going on in our lives, in our country and in the world today.
In January this year, our son James became really, really sick, and after a few days of sky-high fevers, many doctors’ visits and test, I eventually carried him into the hospital looking for answers as he could no longer walk.
A turning point came when a medical professional in the radiology department chose to go the extra mile in her search for a diagnosis. She is a hero in our family! She saved our sons life!
After being admitted to hospital James went for an MRI… This moment was the moment I had to muster all of the courage I could find as horrible medical and permanent words went flying through my brain as I watched him go into that terrifying machine.
James’ one prayer was that he wouldn’t need surgery. We prayed together that God’s will be done… but also, that he wouldn’t need surgery.
James was diagnosed with an infection in his spine and two abscess next to his spine. He spent seven days in hospital on IV antibiotics and slowly began to walk again. James is still on antibiotics, but we look forward to the day in about 3 weeks’ time, when we are officially off the meds.
The MRI was on a Friday, on the Monday the neurosurgeon walked into James’ hospital room and declared that he would most definitely have taken James straight into theatre if he had seen him on the Friday, because “You nearly died!” Well, that’s encouraging isn’t it!
Actually, it was encouraging, because now James has a BIG testimony of how God answered his prayer… he didn’t have surgery and he got better! God heard his cry and answered.
I tell you this story, not to get sympathy, but because I believe that the enemy of Heaven is out to get us as Christ followers and He often attacks our fruitfulness… that can often look like our children.
This is not to scare you, but rather I hope to give you courage. You see even if you look at the story of Moses. At the time Moses was born the Pharaoh of the time was getting concerned that the Israelites were growing in number and strength, he worried that they would overpower the Egyptians. So, he ordered that all baby boys be killed. Moses’ parents were courageous in the face of such an order and decided to hide their beautiful baby boy.
When they could no longer keep him in hiding anymore, they put Moses into a basket and sent him down the river, only to be discovered by Pharaoh's daughter. So instead of being killed, Moses was raised in a palace! Brought up knowing all kinds of things about the Egyptians, that he may never have learnt otherwise.
This is the same Moses that went on to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt and into the promised land. The very thing that Pharaoh feared came true by someone raised in his palace!
My point is, that in this story and similarly in the time when Jesus was born, the enemy attacks the children.
That’s why I think that Joshua chapter 4 is such an important chapter for us to read. Because I believe that in this chapter we will find fresh courage, not only for us, but for our children.
Joshua 4: 4- 9
So Joshua summoned the twelve men he had selected from the Israelites, one man for each tribe, 5 and said to them, “Go across to the ark of the Lord your God in the middle of the Jordan. Each of you lift a stone onto his shoulder, one for each of the Israelite tribes, 6 so that this will be a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ 7 you should tell them, ‘The water of the Jordan was cut off in front of the ark of the Lord’s covenant. When it crossed the Jordan, the Jordan’s water was cut off.’ Therefore, these stones will always be a memorial for the Israelites.”
8 The Israelites did just as Joshua had commanded them. The twelve men took stones from the middle of the Jordan, one for each of the Israelite tribes, just as the Lord had told Joshua. They carried them to the camp and set them down there. 9 Joshua also set up twelve stones in the middle[b] of the Jordan where the priests who carried the ark of the covenant were standing. The stones are still there today.
It must have been wonderful to be those 12 men, after the chaos and the crowds had passed through the Jordan river on dry land, they got to walk around in the miracle and really see what God has done. To linger and look and LIVE IN THE MIRACLE MOMENT.
How often do we pray for God to do a miracle and then just march right through the miracle and carry on with our lives? Do we stop and actually digest all that God has done? Do we take time to take note and tell others of the goodness of God?
In vs 6 it says: “When your children ask in time to come”… God knows children ask lots of questions, and I think He knows our forgetfulness. So he tells them to build a memorial from stones so that when their children ask, they will remember to tell them all about the goodness of God.
Now we don’t have to build a memorial from stones every time God brings a breakthrough in our lives… we can take photos, write in our journal, publish the goodness of God in our lives in many creative ways! But more than that, we get to be living testimonies of God’s goodness because we have become those memorial stones by the finished work of Jesus on the cross.
1 Peter 2:4-5
As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, 5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
We are living testimonies of God’s goodness. We get to tell our children that God is a personal God who keeps His promises!
God keeps His promises to His people because He has a PURPOSE for each one of us! He has individual purpose for each of us, but He also has one overall purpose for all of us who call ourselves Christ followers. That is simply to REVEAL GOD AND MAKE A DIFFERENCE.
In every encounter we have we get to tall people of God’s great love. We get to bring hope into dark places simply because we are living testimonies of God’s goodness. We get to always be looking for opportunities to share hope in this dark world… and hope has a name, His name is Jesus!
Joshua 4:20- 24 goes on to say:
And Joshua set up at Gilgal the twelve stones they had taken out of the Jordan. 21 He said to the Israelites, “In the future when your descendants ask their parents, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 22 tell them, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ 23 For the Lord your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The Lord your God did to the Jordan what he had done to the Red Sea[b] when he dried it up before us until we had crossed over. 24 He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God.”
Do you see the progression? In the beginning of the chapter it refers to the children, at the end the language changes to descendants. God is a multi-generational God. He knows that their great-grandchildren will need courage too. So, He tells them to build a lasting memorial so that for generations to come they will know the goodness of God.
God wants us to be people that BULD A LEGACY OF FAITH.
We should be telling our children and grandchildren about God’s goodness so that they in turn will know that God is good. Not just through stories about other people, but our personal testimony of how God has brought breakthrough, so that they will know God is a personal God who wants to be included in their lives too.
You may have lots of children; you may have none. As a community have many children, and I believe God is wanting us to rise up in courage for the future generations. To tell the children of FREE Church about the goodness of God.
We have an incredible Kids Church, so if God is speaking to you about the future generation, that’s a great place to get involved. But we are not there until we are all there… and our teenagers are not there yet!
Our teenagers are facing things we never faced as teenagers. These past two years have been incredible hard for them. Suicide rates have escalated, gender-based violence is extreme, cyber bullying is taking it’s toll and our teenagers are struggling with chronic loneliness. We have a responsibility to tell a generation of teenagers about God’s great love for them. To pray for them and introduce them to the hope of the ages who stands outside of time and calls them by name. He who has a hope and a future for them, is ready to do great and mighty things in their generation.
FREE Church, we can build a legacy of faith for our children, our children’s children and our children’s children’s children. It starts with us saying a simple yes to pray for our youth, to serve our youth and to build a legacy of faith by telling stories of God’s miraculous power in our lives.