Written by Pastor Tim Rowell
I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.
God is a God of joy! His book is full of many examples of times of celebration. God often called His people to go through tremendous adventures. Just think about some of your favorite Bible stories…ones like Daniel in the Lion’s Den or God parting the waters of the Red Sea so that His people could walk through on dry ground. God called people to go through these times for several reasons. In part, it was because He wanted them to grow in their own faith. Additionally, God desired for them to know Him better; He wanted them to know that He would always come through for them and that He was always in control.
If you take the time to look through some of those stories, you will find that there is usually a time of celebration right after God comes through for His people. Whether it was singing a song, offering a prayer of praise, or sitting down to a festival meal together, people were going to stop and praise God; celebrating what He had done for them. Some of these events (such as the Passover) eventually became yearly festivals where God’s people would gather together and celebrate God’s work in their lives. God even told them to do this. What that tells me is that God is a God who loves to celebrate!
Some people might not realize that the parting of the water at the Red Sea was not the only time in Scripture where this miraculous activity took place. It actually happened on a number of occasions. One instance was when Joshua took over for Moses (after God’s people had been wandering around in the wilderness for 40 years) and it was time to move into the Promised Land. By this point, the Hebrew people were located to the east of the Jordan river. While there was no army pressing in on them that forced them to go through this river, it was still God’s plan. God parted the waters here as well and the people went through on dry ground – again! Something unique to this story; however, is the fact that Joshua (at God’s direction) had twelve stones taken from the river bed and placed onto the shore. Joshua 4:20-24 tells us why:
And Joshua set up at Gilgal the twelve stones they had taken out of the Jordan. He said to the Israelites, “In the future when your descendants ask their parents, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ 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 when he dried it up before us until we had crossed over. 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.”
Joshua set up a memorial so that God’s people could continually remember and celebrate what God had done for them. In doing this, the people’s faith could be strengthened. As they would go through difficult times in the future, they would only need to look at those stones and be reminded that God loves them, is fighting for them, and will never leave them!
We all love a good celebration. In whatever sport we are participating in or are watching, if our favorite team wins a game in close fashion, then let the party begin! Hopefully, we will be able to have some of this kind of fun this year during our baseball camp. In our devotional times this week, we will look together at several aspects of our trip around which God desires for us to celebrate. I promise you this: our joyful God is a God that loves celebrations!
Prayer: Heavenly Father, help us to take some time today to remember. Help us to reflect on both the great Biblical examples of your love, as well as the times in our lives we can recall where you have come through for us. In doing this, we want to be at a place where we can praise you and experience the joy that you desire for us to have. We acknowledge that sometimes we spend far too much time looking at our problems and our issues, but we fail to see the God who is above all of this and who loves us very much. Lord, help us to celebrate with you this week!