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Tuesday, May 27, 2014
"Remembering Our Covenant"
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"And Joshua wrote these words in the book of the law of God; and he took a large stone and set it up there under the oak that was by the sanctuary of the LORD. Joshua said to all the people, 'Behold, this stone shall be for a witness against us, for it has heard all the words of the LORD which He spoke to us; thus it shall be for a witness against you, so that you do not deny your God.'" (Joshua 24:26,27).
Yesterday, here in the U.S. was "Memorial Day" and we remembered those who gave their lives for our freedoms, especially service in the military, which was the original intent for Memorial Day. For many years I participated in the community Memorial Day parade and the solemn memorial service that followed in Saint Marys, PA. Every local service member's name who had died in war was read aloud. It's a practice that continues to this day over 20 years later and likely in many small communities.
We visited New York City yesterday and I took the photo to the left in Brooklyn New York. It's a statue of George Washington. Visible at the lower steps are flowers in patriotic colors placed by the city in honor of Memorial Day.
But many of us also extend this remembrance on this day to include all who have enriched our lives, whether they be family, friends or fellow believers. Although we don't know if other countries have a day similar to this, wherever we live we can use this day to consider our heritage and remember those who have gone on before us.
But today let us consider the theme of "remembering our covenant". In a covenant, the root concept is commitment. Marital vows are a covenant relationship between a man and a woman. In dedicating our children to God we make a covenant and church membership should properly be reckoned as a covenant. But the most important covenant is between us and God!
God's Word often calls us to remember this covenant. In fact it is at the heart of the Lord's Supper observance, "Do this in remembrance of Me." We often see this inscribed on Communion Tables.
As Joshua's life was coming to an end he called the people to Shechem and made a powerful appeal to serve God which includes a proclamation memorized by many Christians, "As for me and my house we will serve the Lord." We, as a family, often end our prayers by reciting this verse together. Ester usually adds the word "forever" at the end. It's not in the original text but I certainly believe it is an appropriate expression!
After Joshua made the personal proclamation and challenged the people to do the same he then took a large stone and set it up in a place clearly identifiable to the people. He said the stone had "heard all the words of the LORD" and would be a "witness against us." The sense seems to be that of a memorial that would remind the people of their solemn commitment to follow the Lord. The root Hebrew word for witness carries the meaning "to duplicate or repeat."
The oak tree at Shechem* is first referenced in Scripture in Genesis 12:6 where Abraham received assurance from God that He would keep His promises. Later, as Abraham's grandson Jacob grew in his faith, this oak tree was the place where Jacob's family made a firm stand for God in burying their false gods under it (Genesis 35:4). And many years later the oak tree at Shechem was a place where Joshua made a tangible memorial to the people concerning their covenant renewal to faithfully serve God. The large stone under the oak tree, next to the sanctuary, served as a reminder to the people of the commitment that they had made that day.
Today, let us personally remember what God has done for us and renew our covenant to serve and obey Him!
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, we read where Joshua placed a stone under the oak tree to serve as a witness against anyone who heard Your words spoken through godly leaders and yet chose to deny You. The stone under the oak tree in Schechem was witness to those who remained true or those who denied the faith. The stone was unchanging from day to day, year to year just as our promises should be. It was an inanimate witness unable to speak, but today we have living witnesses within our family, community, and church that can either speak up that we are people of truth or deny our claims. Our words will be demonstrated in our attitudes and actions and we will impact these eye witnesses in regard to their eternal future. No matter the consequence in this life, we never want to deny You in what we say or do. Amen.
* I realize that it cannot be stated with certainty that this was the very same oak tree in each instance. However, given the lifespan of an oak tree and the clear landmark status this oak tree in Shechem had, it very well could have been. Here are the verses referenced above:
Genesis 12:6 "Abram traveled through the land as far as the site of the great tree of Moreh at Shechem."
Genesis 35:4 "So they gave Jacob all the foreign gods they had and the rings in their ears, and Jacob buried them under the oak at Shechem."
Due to several days w/o posting messages and a long weekend we have a variety of photos we would like to share today.
Last Wednesday through Friday I (Stephen) attended the Watchmen on the Wall Pastor's briefing in Washington DC. The photo above shows several of the pastors that tended to group with us during the meetings. Four of us drove down from Lancaster County together; L to R, Pastors John Keefer (3rd), Pat Weber (4th) and Alan Walter (5th) from Lebanon PA. While there we met up with Pastors Bill Silver (1st) from the Pittsburgh area and Jack Martin (2nd) from Florida.
We were challenged to remain true to God's Word amidst the tide of apostasy sweeping our land. We were heartened to see an increase in attendance this year including many younger pastors.
In the photo above take a look again at the first pastor on the far left, Bill Silver. Does he resemble any famous western movie star from the past? If you guessed John Wayne, you'd be on the right track since John Wayne was his cousin!
The Watchmen on the Wall conference begins and ends with a Messianic Jewish rabbi blowing the Shofar.
I met Jack Martin the first year I went to the Watchmen on the Wall meeting four years ago. I went by myself that year but Jack quickly befriended me and now we look for each other every year. He has a dramatic testimony of his conversion to Christ that we hope to share in a future encouragement message.
Saturday evening we visited with Lloyd and Mary Ann Miller, local friends we met initially through Daily Encouragement. They are standing in front of a potting shed Lloyd built!
The sun was setting so we didn't get a photo without shadows. Our eyes were drawn to the potting shed that sits at the very outer edge of their large back yard. Our featured landscape photo today was taken from their backyard as well.
On Sunday afternoon Ken Pierce invited me over to ride our bikes in the farm "Velodrome" which is actually a ________________.
Can anyone guess what it is? (Respond here and the answer will be provided tomorrow!)
It's one thing to ride a bike through a large farm building, but we chose a much bigger setting for biking yesterday as our friends, Lee and Pam Smucker, invited us to join them in New York City. We rode our bikes through lower Manhatten and Brooklyn, something we never imagined ourselves doing. It was an absolutely beautiful day. Here we are with the Brooklyn Bridge (which we rode our bikes over) and the lower Manhattan skyline behind us. We'll share more photos from this trip over the next several days.
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"Finish Well" Video Karen Peck & New River Brooksyne heard this song on the Gospel Greats radio program on Saturday and felt it to be a great prompting to all our readers in keeping our covenant with God.
To give our readers a sense of our experience at the Watchmen on the Wall meeting:
The entire message that Franklin Graham preached. Video (24 minutes)
Here is the message preached by Tony Perkins Video (40 minutes)
The "Watchmen On The Wall" pastor's briefing in Washington DC encourages pastors to be a "watchman pastor", standing up for Biblical values and against the tide of evil that is sweeping our land.
The conference was full this year, I believe in part due to a sense of urgency regarding the state of our land. This conference challenges pastors to take a strong, uncompromising stand for Biblical truth.
Our basic commission as "Watchman Pastors" in this regard is to:
1) Pray for our nation.
2) Preach the Bible without apology.
3) Partner with those who also hold Biblical values.
Pastor friends: I urge you to examine this ministry and join me in being a "Watchman Pastor".
Lay people: Consider sending this message to your pastor with a note asking him to look into this.
What is a Watchman Pastor? The name is from Isaiah 62:6: "I have posted watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; they will never be silent day or night. You who call on the LORD, give yourselves no rest." A Watchman Pastor is called to do the following:
* Watch what is going on in the culture.
* Pray for the wisdom to engage Biblically, courageously, and winsomely.
* Sound the alarm from the pulpit.
* Take a bold stand with others to defend and advance faith, family, and freedom.
Watchmen On The Wall Overview Video
Watchmen Pastors (Website for Watchmen Pastors)
Stephen and Brooksyne Weber (Click on photo to enlarge)
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