Summary: Experiences of our vacation
Praise the Lord. Praise, O servants of the Lord, praise the name of the Lord.
Let the name of the Lord be praised, both now and forevermore. From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised.
The Lord is exalted over all the nations, his glory above the heavens. Who is like the Lord our God, the One who sits enthroned on high, who stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth? He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; he seats them with princes, with the princes of their people. He settles the barren woman in her home as a happy mother of children. Praise the Lord.
This chapter begins and ends with “Praise the Lord!” And that is what I want to do this morning. My heart is filled with love and gratitude for the Lord. I realize maybe just a little bit – how good he has been to me. Back in the Old Testament days God would often have his people do something to remind them of some significant spiritual event. He started it out by making a rainbow to remind us of his love and blessing. He directed them to celebrate and have feasts to remember His love and protection. A number of times God directed His people to pile up stones as a memorial – to remind them of God’s goodness. In Joshua 4 we find one example.
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.”
8 And the children of Israel did so, just as Joshua commanded, and took up twelve stones from the midst of the Jordan, as the LORD had spoken to Joshua, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, and carried them over with them to the place where they lodged, and laid them down there. 9 Then Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of the Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests who bore the ark of the covenant stood; and they are there to this day.
This year, as I walked the roads that I walked as a boy, and swam in the lakes I swam in as a boy, and fished in the places I fished as a boy, I had my grandsons and granddaughter with me. The old road in Wirt was still dirt. Clear Lake was still clear and our old house was still standing. One of my cousins had recently bought it from another relative who bought it from my dad.
Family is always a big thing back home. Again, our vacation was only possible due to the kindness and generosity of my cousin, Lt. Col. Dave Grossman. In appreciation, I took all his money in Texas hold’em. I think I might have bested him in the shoot out, too – at least that is what I want to think.
We stayed with my mom for a week and used my sister’s vacation home for a week. My mom, my brother and his family and my niece and her family worshipped with us each week in the old Nazarene church I grew up in. It was my privilege to lead worship in the old church where I was a member of the youth group. I asked a fellow member of that youth group, Shirley Ruff, to help me sing. God really blessed worship and the presence of the Lord was so sweet. Pastor Paul is doing a wonderful job of ministering to the church and especially to my family.