A Word from Kay Daigle on how to use the resources for this study…I want to encourage you to complete the personal lesson below before you click on any of the accompanying elements that may be found with this lesson (audio lecture, manuscript, PowerPoint, or handout). This study was written to help you maximize your personal spiritual growth. That means that you first spend time with God through His word, and then hopefully, discuss what you learned with a small group of women. After that, if you want to hear the audio (or read the manuscript) and follow the PowerPoint, filling in the handout, then that is a great time to do it! I cannot cover all the verses in depth, but you can read and study them for yourself. It is best for you to think through the passages before hearing what anyone else thinks, even me! You will find some lessons without lectures. At our church we use some of those weeks to spend extra time in our small groups sharing life stories, having a longer prayer time, or expressing how God is working in our lives.
The Lesson 3 Manuscript available for this lesson. The lecture audio, powerpoint and handout for Lesson 3 follows this page.
“He told the Israelites, ‘When your children someday ask their fathers, “What do these stones represent?” explain to your children, “Israel crossed the Jordan River on dry ground.”’
My mother holds onto the tangible proof of her memories. She saves her birthday cards; she saves graduation programs; she saves notes and letters from her friends. Whenever she feels lonely or unloved, she goes back to those things and rereads the thoughts and prayers of those who love her. She is able to remember special events in the lives of her children and grandchildren and see how God has blessed her with friends and family.
We all need tangible ways to remember the past so that we never forget all that God has done. The nation of Israel was no exception.
Read Joshua 3:1-4.
1. The people of Israel made their final move before entering the land of God’s promise. Where did they travel and how long did they stay there before receiving further instructions? (If you have a map in the back of your Bible or a Bible atlas, you may want to look up the Jordan River near Jericho.)
2. What command did the leaders give the people and what reason did they give for this command?
3. Read these verses and write down what you learn about the Ark of the Covenant.
f. Exodus 25:10-22 (Describe the Ark in general. Note what you learn in 25:22 in particular.)
h. Exodus 32:7-8, 15-19: 34:1, 4; 40:17-21
i. Heb. 9:1-5
Digging for Diamonds: Use your Bible references—encyclopedias or commentaries—or go online and read more about the Ark of the Covenant.
4. Consider all of the verses in question #3. Why was the Ark so important? What did it represent? What lessons about God did it teach the people? How would you, as an Israelite, have felt when led by the Ark?
5. Sharing question: The leaders told the people, “Keep your distance so you can see which way you should go, for you have not traveled this way before.” Every day we go where we have not traveled before, but often we are unaware of our need to follow God and let Him go before us. Share with your group how you go about watching where God is working and follow Him there. How do you keep alert to His direction?
6. Responding to God: Draw a picture—stick figures are great! Put yourself in view of the Ark, as a symbol of God’s presence in your life. Where are you in relation to the Ark—out in front of it or following it?
Read Joshua 3:5.
The NET Bible says the people were to “ritually consecrate themselves.” Other versions also use the word “consecrate” (NIV, NASB). The New Living Bible says, “Purify yourselves,” while The Bible in Basic English phrases it “Make yourselves holy.” Some use the term “sanctify” (MSG, NKJV, and KJV).
7. Look up these references which relate other times when the people were called to consecrate themselves. Write down your thoughts.
8. Remember that in the Old Testament God often used physical pictures of spiritual realities to teach his people. Why might God call the people to purify themselves before entering the land and encountering God’s miracles?
Digging for Diamonds: Use your concordance or go online to bible.org and look up the word in Joshua 3:5 listed above #7 in the translation of that particular concordance. Skim the other references and pick out some that may help you better understand what it means to be sanctified or consecrated.
9. Sharing question: What does this purification teach you about your part in fulfilling God’s dreams? What kind of purification may He want you to undertake in order to see Him bring about His miraculous deeds? What specific sin is He asking you to forsake and confess?
10. Responding to God: You may need to spend time listening to God as He directs you to things that He wants purified from your life. Go back and add those to #9. Then, confess before Him the sins that may be holding you back from seeing God fulfill His dreams for you.
It appears that the story here is not completely chronological. Often a writer has other purposes for the way he puts his narrative together, but that may make it difficult for us to understand what was happening. In v. 6 the priests picked up the Ark, apparently on the day after v. 5, but vv. 7-13 appear to flashback to the instructions that Joshua gave beforehand.3
12. Compare this event with the events of Ex. 14:8-31.
13. Read Psalm 114. The psalmist used wonderful poetic language to describe the great deeds that God did for His people in leaving Egypt and entering the land of promise. How did he poetically describe what happened at the Jordan River?
14. What should be the response to God’s deeds, according to the psalmist in Psalm 114? How should we respond today to knowing what God did for His people in the desert and as they crossed the Jordan into the land of promise?
Digging for Diamonds: Read more about the deeds that God did in Egypt in Exodus 7:14-11:10.
15. Sharing question: Share about a time in your life when God did a mighty work on your behalf and you ended up in awe of Him. The word miraculous may not be appropriate because that is when God acts in opposition to the laws of nature, as He did here. God doesn’t show up with miracles most of the time, but His greatness is often seen in the small things of each day. Instead of focusing on a huge act of God, focus on your response. When did God awe you with His work?
16. Responding to God: Write a prayer or poem about your awe of the works of God.
Read Joshua 4:1-24. Although you read vv. 10-18 yesterday, reread the entire chapter to get the feel of the story.
17. What were twelve men to do and how were they chosen (vv. 1-5)? What was the purpose of the stones vv. 6-7, 21-24)?
18. Often a Bible character marked a special occasion or covenantal promise with a tangible marker. Read these verses and consider what kinds of markers were made and what the person was to remember:
19. Sharing question: Spend some time thinking back through your life. Write down the story of a time when God clearly moved in your life, a time when He proved His power and presence to you. How does remembering that time encourage you today?
Be sure and memorize the Thought to Cherish for this week.
I usually save the stories for Day Five, but this week you should read these before answering the next question.
Today we are blessed with stories of two women who have found ways to mark God’s work in the lives of their families and pass those on for their children to remember.
About seventeen years ago, my husband and I were taking a prayer course. One of the weekly assignments was to write out spiritual markers remembering how God had moved in our lives. We took the challenge and went even further than the homework. We prepared, with our two older teen children’s assistance, a “Praise Stones” notebook. We documented each of the things that could be remembered:
The list continued to grow and it was a true time of rejoicing in all that He had done for us over the years!
Our children both married within five months of each other. For their tenth wedding anniversaries, we copied our “Praise Stones” notebook (nothing fancy) and gave each a copy and told them it was now time for them to begin adding their own family “Praise Stones”. It was a blessing to be able to pass along to the next generation the wonderful deeds that He has done!
I have found that the longer I walk with the Lord how forgetful I really am. For some reason, I seem to convince myself again and again that I won’t forget how God has come through for me, or what prayers He has answered in my life. Unfortunately, this is not the case. I forget, you forget, we all forget…and then we subtly begin to doubt God’s faithfulness.
In order to combat spiritual forgetfulness, there are three things that I do. First, I journal during my prayer time. By nature, I am not a person who loves writing out my thoughts. Thus, journaling is a struggle for me. However, if I don’t write out what God is doing and keep track of the prayers I am praying, I realize that I often forget to thank the Lord when He answers those prayers. The scriptures admonish us to be thankful. If I’ve forgotten what He has done, I forget to be thankful. That is not a place I like to be, so I press on in journaling. It keeps my heart encouraged because I can see the timeline of God’s faithfulness before my eyes.
Our family also has a memory box. It is a decorative display box where we keep receipts, notes and small mementos that reflect a particular moment in time where God provided for us something we had been praying about. It has been a wonderful thing for us over the past 6 years as my husband and I will occasionally thumb through the items. It encourages us when we are struggling to believe that God will provide for us in a particular need. It is a valuable tool for us to share with our children what God has done. It helps them to see and remember examples of God’s provision for their family.
I was recently given a gift that I am excited to begin using. I friend of mine gave me a jar, a bag of stones, and a journal that all matched. Much like the Lord told Joshua, it will give us an opportunity to mark events in our family’s life in such a way that we can remember God’s faithfulness and tell our children of His wondrous works.
Digging for Diamonds: Read Gen. 9:8-17 and write down your insights into the relationship of this story to the story of the stones in Joshua.
20. Sharing question: What practical things have you done to help you remember God’s work, His answered prayers, or His mighty deeds in your life? If you haven’t done that, what is your plan to make a marker of remembrance? You may want to try one of the ideas in today’s stories.
21. Responding to God: Spend time thanking God for the mighty works He has done for you. Write a prayer or poem of praise. You may prefer to draw an illustration of the one that stands out in your mind.
22. What purposes did God have for His miracle at the Jordan River (3:7, 10; 4:23-24)?
23. At this point, how well had God succeeded in fulfilling His purposes (4:14, 5:1)?
24. How would you have felt to have been at the Jordan River with Joshua and all the people, realizing that your parents crossed at the Red Sea or maybe you did also as a child? How would you have viewed Joshua, and what would you have learned about God?
Digging for Diamonds: In your concordance or on bible.org or other online references look up “know I am LORD” and similar phrases. Glance through the passages. Look for those where God is saying that His actions will result in the knowledge that He is God. Write down any insights that you gain.
25. Sharing question: What is the greatest lesson that you have learned about God? What happened to help you learn it? How does knowing that truth about God impact a specific situation in your life today? How does it help you deal with it in faith?
26. Responding to God: The greatest commandment is to love God with your whole being, before all other things (Mark 12:30). As God reveals Himself to us through personal experiences of His love and care for us, we should love Him more and more. Write a love letter or poem to your God, remembering His mighty works on your behalf.
3 Woudstra, 82.