Joshua 4:1-7 ... The Crossing of the Jordan and the setting up of a Memorial...
"1, And it came to pass, when all the people had completely crossed over the Jordan, that the LORD spoke to Joshua, saying: 2 "Take for yourselves twelve men from the people, one man from every tribe, 3 "and command them, saying, "Take for yourselves twelve stones from here, out of the midst of the Jordan, from the place where the priests' feet stood firm. You shall carry them over with you and leave them in the lodging place where you lodge tonight.'" 4 Then Joshua called the twelve men whom he had appointed from the children of Israel, one man from every tribe; 5 and Joshua said to them: "Cross over before the ark of the LORD your God into the midst of the Jordan, and each one of you take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, 6 "that this may be a sign among you when your children ask in time to come, saying, 'What do these stones mean to you?' 7 "Then you shall answer them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD; when it crossed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. And these stones shall be for a memorial to the children of Israel forever."
We find throughout the Old Testament, times when God's people set up monuments or memorials to remember what God had done for them, to remind them of past accomplishments.
People that came by these memorials years afterwards would have a reminder of God's faithfulness and the faithfulness of believers that have gone before them.
Imagine if we still did that today! I wonder how many memorials we'd have to our credit, reminding us of times that we stepped out and trusted God. Times that we did great things through God's power.
The fact is, that we do leave behind something. Oh it may not be a pile of stones! It may not even be something tangible from an earthly perspective, but we leave behind a legacy of our life with God. We leave behind a reminder to others that we were either faithful or unfaithful, or had up and down seasons of faithfulness.
It's Good to look back at where we've been spiritually. Life is passing by... what spiriutal monuments are we leaving behind?
What has God done in your life?
- What monuments will be left behind?
- What things have we done this past year will Count for Eternity?
- Where are you headed this year?
This morning I want to talk to you about - The importance of a Year end Inventory! How did we spend our time? How did we invest our lives' for God's Kingdom?
Recently, I've been working on our church Schedule for the whole year of 2001! As as sat there thinking about what we hope to do in this next year... it gave me opportunity to think about what we did this last year, ...what I did last year.
It's good for Christians to stop from time to time and take inventory isn't it?
1. What have I done in service to the Lord this past year?
2. How much did I grow spiritually this past year (or did I) ?
3. Who did I witness to this past year?
4. Was I as faithful as I could have been?
5. Did I encourage every time I had the chance? and on and on...
God's word reminds us to look back at what happened...
Dt. 32: 6, Do you thus deal with the LORD, O foolish and unwise people? Is He not your Father, who bought you? Has He not made you and established you? 7, "Remember the days of old, Consider the years of many generations. Ask your father, and he will show you; Your elders, and they will tell you:
Five times in the book of Dt. we read..., "remember that you were a slave."
Remember WHY God took you out of slavery... To serve Him!
It's good to remember! * someone in church recently asked me if I knew of the herbal benefits of Ginko Belova, I said, "I can't remember!" ...
Don't forget WHY God saved you! 2Cor. 5:15..."that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again."
Combine the principle of "looking at where we've gone..." with Stewardship responsibility... it is required...
We're 7 days into this new year! Have you thought about, planned on, how THIS next year will be improved Spiritually? If you aim at nothing... you're sure to hit it!
But we all know that God has not called us to an aimless life, has he? Don't make the mistake of NOT setting spiritual Goals for yourself. It's so EASY Not to Plan! It's to easy to Just let life Happen!
We find an interesting reminder about life in the book of Hosea.
Hosea 7:9, Yes, gray hairs are here and there on him, Yet he does not know it.
In the context of Hosea 7, this refers to the decline of Israel, but there is a principle here that reminds us that life is passing by, we're all getting older, whether we want to acknowledge this or not, life and opportunity to serve God is slipping away day by day and sometimes Christians live and act as if that's no big deal.
illustration: Someone has said, "the older we get the more valuable we become": - 'Silver in our hair, Gold in our teeth, Stones in our kidneys, lead in our feet and Gas in our stomachs.'
In all seriousness, the older we get, the Wiser we should be about using our time for God's purposes. Our sense of Good stewardship should getting better and better as we age.
illustration: Jeanne Calment, at 120 years and counting, is the oldest living human who's birth date can be authenticated. When recently asked to describe her vision for the future, she replied, "Very brief."
Each day! Each month! Each Year is a Stewardship Responsibility! You're Accountable for this past year and the year ahead of you. Don't just let life and opportunity to serve the King of kings pass you bye. Grab onto every chance you get to be a good steward for the Lord.
Luke 16: records a parable about "stewardship mismanagement"
1. The Steward was dismissed from his position... but
2. he ended up being commended for his planning...
Read... Luke 16:1-11 * explain as you go...
1, He also said to His disciples: "There was a certain rich man who had a steward, and an accusation was brought to him that this man was wasting his goods. 2, "So he called him and said to him, 'What is this I hear about you? Give an account of your stewardship, for you can no longer be steward.' 3, "Then the steward said within himself, 'What shall I do? For my master is taking the stewardship away from me. I cannot dig; I am ashamed to beg. 4, 'I have resolved what to do, that when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses.' 5 "So he called every one of his master's debtors to him, and said to the first, 'How much do you owe my master?' 6, "And he said, `A hundred measures of oil.' So he said to him, 'Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.'"
1. The master heard about the stewards mismanagement!
I wonder what the Lord thinks about my management, your management of His goods? Do you suppose He'd like to let some of us go, because we're not being that faithful? We all should think about that. The good news is, God gives us chance after chance to make it right!
2. Also notice the the Master said, "Give an account of your stewardship." Boy does that get our attention. It's like the Lord saying, "step into my office, I've got some issues to discuss with you!" Gulp!
3. The steward looses his privilege to serve the master.
4. However, at least the steward has sense enough to think of his future, that's why he finds a way to have others indebted to him.
5. The steward who mismanages the master's goods is not commended for his mismanagement or his underhanded business tactics, but he commended for planning ahead, planning for his future.
It's so important for every believer to hearken to this principle of planning ahead. We can be so shrewd when it comes to planning for retirement or for a vacation, but what our planning for Eternity? What about planning how you'll invest this next year for God's purpose, for His Service?
Some may have real regrets about their stewardship performance in the past year. I think all of us have areas we need to work on!
illus: Roger Stauback, former quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys, was once asked how he felt when he had blown a pass. He said, "I can hardly wait to get my hands on the ball again".
I believe every Christian that has a heart for God, has those moments as they look back on their life that they say, "I really want to be a better servant"... And we can...
Everyone of us should purpose to be a better steward for the Lord this next year! Don't you want to be a better servant? Why can't we aim higher than we've ever aimed before?
Let's think about what we need to do in order to make this year, 2001, a year that we're sold out to Serve our King!
1. Don't avoid doing a personal audit of the last year. * be honest
- go to the Lord in prayer...
- how was my prayer last year?
- how was my personal devotion time?
- how was my hunger for God Himself?
- was I faithful only when it was convenient? Is that really?
- was I a good witness? * Was I a good steward last year of ALL that God has entrusted me with.... time, money, Spiritual gifts... ?
* As a steward... do I really care about the Master's wishes?
If you don't ask yourself these hard questions... If you don't do a spiritual inventory... then you're sure to hit the same spiritual target you hit last year!
I want to set my spiritual sights higher this year than I did last year... How about you?
End with the Pearl story:
A 5 year old little girl named Jenny was with her mother at the checkout stand, when she saw a circle of glistening white pearls in a pink foil box.
"Oh please, Mommy. Can I have them? Quickly the mother checked the back of the little foil box and then looked back into the pleading blue eyes of her little girl's upturned face. "A dollar ninety-five. That's almost $2.00 If you really want them, I'll think of some extra chores for you and in no time you can save enough money to buy them for yourself. Your birthday's only a week away and you might get another crisp dollar bill from Grandma."
As soon as Jenny got home, she emptied her penny bank and counted out 17 pennies. After dinner, she did more than her share of chores and she went to the neighbor and asked Mrs. McJames if she could pick dandelions for ten cents. On her birthday, Grandma did give her another new dollar bill and at last she had enough money to buy the necklace.
Jenny loved her pearls. They made her feel dressed up and grown up. She wore them everywhere -- Sunday school, kindergarten, even to bed.
Jenny1s day read her stories every night before she went to sleep. One night when he finished the story, he asked Jenny, "Do you love me?" "Oh yes, Daddy. You know that I love you." "Then give me your pearls." "Oh, Daddy, not my pearls. But you can have Princess -- the white horse from my collection. The one with the pink tail. Remember, Daddy? The one you gave me. She's my favorite." "That's okay, Honey. Daddy loves you. Good night." kiss...
About a week later, after the story time, Jenny's daddy asked again, "Do you love me?" "Daddy, you know I love you." "Then give me your pearls." "Oh Daddy, not my pearls. But you can have my baby doll. The brand new one I got for my birthday. She is so beautiful and you can have the yellow blanket that matches her sleeper." "That's okay. Sleep well. God bless you, little one. Daddy loves you." And as always, he brushed her cheek with a gentle kiss.
A few nights later when her daddy came in, Jenny was sitting on her chin was trembling and one silent tear rolled down her cheek. "What is it, Jenny? What's the matter?" Jenny didn't say anything but lifted her little hand up to her daddy. And when she opened it, there was her little pearl necklace. With a little quiver, she finally said, "Here, Daddy. It's for you." With tears gathering in his own eyes, Jenny's kind daddy reached out with one hand to take the dime-store necklace, and with the other hand he reached into his pocket and pulled out a blue velvet case with a strand of genuine pearls and gave them to Jenny. He had, had them all the time. He was just waiting for her to give up the dime-store necklace so he could give her genuine treasure.
So much like our heavenly Father. What are you hanging on to?
So often our lives and our planning involves clinging to those things in life that WE think are treasures, when God wants us to have something much more precious. To often we're planning our year on the things of life that are cheap in the light of eternity, when God wants to give us opportunity to receive treasures in Heaven.