New Hope Notes
Lest We Forget
Fundamentals For Life
Pastor Elwin Ahu
Lest We Forget
By Pastor Elwin Ahu
May 29, 2010
It is Memorial Day Weekend and we are supposed to take the Holiday to remember but actually we do forget all sorts of important things because we are too busy or get distracted. These days there are so many mental and forgetting disorders that we name them with numerous acronyms.† One is called AAADD which is Age Activated Attention Deficit Disorder. We set out to water the garden but decide that since we already have the hose that the car needs washing. But since the car is near the mailbox, we pick up the mail and head back into the house.† When we put the mail down we notice that the trash needs emptying but see the unpaid bills and so proceed to do that. Anyway at the end of the day we wonder why we have not done anything but are so tired! Sometimes we are so distracted that we forget the important things in life.
But that is nothing new. We are just like the ancient Israelites. They were on the brink of entering the Promised Land and had one last obstacle to cross and that was the raging and very wide Jordan River. While it may have seemed to Joshua that it made no sense to cross while the River was so rough, God wanted them to cross NOW! God ever asked you to do something that seemed to not make sense at the time? I call those Crossover Moments in life.† ††††
God told the Israelites that when their priests stepped into the Jordan River, the waters would stop. The priests did so, the river stopped flowing and two million Israelites were able to cross over. God showed up in a mighty way. The lesson is that if they failed to move ahead they would still be stuck in their perilous situation. God made it difficult for them so that they would remember.
God then told the Israelites to have 12 of their leaders build an altar using the stones from the Jordan River as a memorial. The Lord said, "Let this be a sign among you, so that when your children ask later, saying, 'What do these stones mean to you?' then you shall say to them, 'Because the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD' ... So these stones shall become a memorial to the sons of Israel forever" (Jos. 4:6-7). He did not want them to wait. He wanted them to build the altar NOW because He knew that humans tend to get busy and forget. There will always be plenty of distractions and distracted people tend to forget. But what is it that we need to remember?
We need to make special effort to remember when God was in our lives because we especially tend to forget when we get busy and successful. As the Bible says, "Then it shall come about when the Lord your God brings you into the land which He swore to your fathers ... [with] houses full of all good things which you did not fill ... vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant, and you eat and are satisfied, then watch yourself, that you do not forget the Lord who brought you from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery" (Deut. 6:10-12). Someone once said that the toughest test of character is not poverty but prosperity because it is so easy to forget God when you are prosperous.
King Solomon himself had that problem of being prosperous and then forgetting God. It is written, "Now the Lord was angry with Solomon because his heart was turned away from the Lord ... who had appeared to him twice, and had commanded him ... that he should not go after other gods; but he did not observe what the Lord had commanded" (1 Kings 11:9-10). Solomon had it all and God appeared to him twice but when Solomon became prosperous he sought out other gods.
When our own country first started we were closer to God. As time has gone on there has been more and more efforts to push God out of our society. We seem to celebrate Godlessness. Our own Honolulu Police Department no longer has ďGod Bless AmericaĒ in their oath. McKinley High School has removed the phrase ďlove for GodĒ from their code of honor. We are going in the wrong direction because we have become so successful. We are even taking down crosses. We are eliminating memorials rather than erecting memorials to the presence of God. Merry Christmas is being replaced by Happy Holidays.
We need to get back to the fundamental principles of God in this country. It is important to remember that God did take us across the Jordan River. The danger of not having memorials is that we lose our perspective of life Ė we then tend to set other gods before us.
Two other gods that seem to preoccupy us these days are the God of self gratification and the god of self entitlement. Everything we want tends to become a right to us because we forget God. If we forget God, we lose proper perspective of life and lose the confidence to move forward. So why else should we remember Godís presence?
The Bible says, "Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering ...Ē We have all had battles and struggles in our lives but we have to remember that God was there for us. ďSo do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised" (Heb. 10:32, 35-36 NIV). Life is a journey. It is not IF we will come to our Crossover Moments but WHEN we will do so and what we will do when the time comes. Memorials will give us confidence that God has been there for us.
When Moses passed the leadership of the Israelites down to Joshua, I am sure that Joshua was afraid. But Joshua behaved strong and confident so what gave Joshua that confidence? He was there with Moses when Moses parted the Red Sea and so saw the power of God that was with them. As it is written, "In the future your children will ask, 'What do these stones mean?' ... [Tell] them, 'This is where the Israelites crossed the Jordan on dry ground.' 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 Sea ... 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" (Jos. 4:21-24 NLT). God wanted people in the future to see the stones so that they would know that He had been there in the past and so would be in the future, also.
My name Ahu means heap of stones. In ancient Hawaii, this was significant because the Hawaiians used stones as boundaries and markers to show the where the trail was. In other words, they marked the way for others to follow. Memorials today are similar. They remind us that God has been there in the past and so will be there in the future for us and so we should follow Him.
Our son Jared does not understand all this yet so I have set up Ahuís or memorials in my own home for him so that he will remember later. So what is the best way to remember?
The Bible says, "So it shall be on the day when you cross the Jordan ... that you shall set up for yourself large stones ... and write on them all the words of this law ..." (Deut. 27:2-3) Those stones were special because they were set apart from the others so now people in the future will ask about those stones. Likewise, God made me and my circumstances special so that people would take notice. He pulled me out of the judiciary and wrote His law on my heart. God made me different so that He could use me. When people notice the change in me they ask me about it and that opens the door for God. As the Bible says, " ... you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house ... Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you ... they may because of your good deeds ... glorify God in the day of visitation" (1 Pt. 2:5, 12).
No matter how challenging and raging the river may be, you will be able to see that God was there and will be there for you in the future. I have stones or memorials in my home. I have party favors from my wedding to remind me of Godís hand in my 3rd marriage. There is my baptismal plaque, my judgeís gavel, a picture of my son Brandonís graduation and a whole lot more.† All of these remind me of Godís presence in my life. I wanted my little son Jared and everyone else to be reminded of Godís continued presence in our home. Do you have memorials of Godís presence in your home?
You will have many challenges in your life but you will do great things if you remind yourself that you have God in your life.
We should make special effort to remember God in our lives and we should set up reminders around us of that. We should remember when God showed up because it builds confidence for our future and we should remember and help others to remember by living a Godly lifestyle.
1. † Why did God tell the Israelites to build the memorial at the Jordan River?
2. † Why was the Jordan River so difficult to cross in the first place?
3. † Why is it so important to remember Godís presence in your life?
4. † What is one of the best ways to help others to remember God?
5. † What are some of the memorials in your home?
6. † How can you better remember God?