July 8, 2020
Remember Your Ebenezer
One of ‘those’ weeks—if it could go wrong it did. If it could get worst, it did. Yet, from the first problem, I remembered how many times I had been here before. I also remembered that each time God provided, gave wisdom, and I remembered how we came through our difficult seasons in victory. In my thoughts, I had raised my Ebenezer. People have asked me when we sang the sixteenth century hymn that says, Here I raise my Ebenezer, what that meant. Israel had lost a battle with the Philistines and suffered great loss of lives and the Philistines took the Ark of the Covenant. Years later at the same location, Israel was again facing the Philistines. This time they cried out to the Lord for His help. The Philistines drew near to battle against Israel. But the Lord thundered with a great thunder on that day against the Philistines and confused them, so that they were routed before Israel. The men of Israel went out of Mizpah and pursued the Philistines, and struck them down as far as below Beth-car (1 Sam 7:10, 11).
Samuel set up a stone as a memorial of remembrance and He named it Ebenezer, explaining, The Lord has helped us to this point (1 Sam 7:12). Each time anyone saw the stone it should inspire hope and encouragement about the Lord’s unfailing help when they faced difficult situations and cried out to Him. I admit that at one point Saturday night, I was ready to write Ebenezer on a stone and put it under my house where I was repairing the main water line from my well, but I knew my Ebenezer was a matter of faith and assurance that the Holy Spirit was helping me.
Throughout the Bible, multiple scriptures tell us we should remember what God has done for us. The Old Testament uses the word ‘remember’ 146 times with 26 of them focused on recalling what God had done in the past. Remembering past victories strengthens our confidence that God will be our source of help in our current challenges. Jonah wrote, when my life was slipping away, I remembered God (Jon 2:7 MSG). If you should say in your heart, ‘These nations are greater than I; how can I dispossess them?’ you shall not be afraid of them; you shall well remember what the Lord your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt (Deut 7:17, 18). The residents of Jerusalem were afraid of their enemies after Nehemiah arrived to rebuild the wall. Nehemiah encouraged them. When I saw their fear, I rose and spoke to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people: “Do not be afraid of them; remember the Lord who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives and your houses (Neh 4:14).”
We must guard against forgetting. Humans are prone to forget. The disciples were worried about not bringing bread. Jesus scolded them. And do you not remember, when I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces you picked up (Mar 8:18, 19)? In the Law God provided various objects and times for helping Israel remember His greatness and goodness—phylacteries, tassels, stone monuments, feasts, and the Sabbath. In the New Testament, Jesus told us that receiving communion is a time of remembrance. And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me (Luk 22:19).” As we take the bread and wine, we should reflect on what Jesus did for us. Yet, another important element of communion is examining ourselves and remembering if there is any unrepentant sin in our lives. But a man must examine himself . . . For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly (1Co 11:28, 29).
We can create a personal Ebenezer by setting aside times when we stop and remember from where we have come and recall the blessings and victories the Lord has provided. We can do this through a journal or by just creating a spiritual memory album in our minds. It is easy when we are overwhelmed with our current struggles that we forget all the victories of the past. Years ago, I created a database on my computer listing each year since my birth. In a box next to that, I record all the victories and blessings I received that year. Each year I remember more and add it to my Ebenezer record. More and more I see God’s hand at work throughout my life. Ten years ago, if the problems that happened this past week had happen then, I would have been ‘a basket-case.’ I immediately recognized the hand of Satan bringing one of his ‘evil days.’ All week the Holy Spirit maintained a deep peace and I kept praising God for all the times He had given me victory in these same kinds of problems. Remember, God has helped you in the past, will help you today, and continue to help you in the future.
Sustaining Word for the Week: Raise up your Ebenezer. Remember all the Lord has done for you and the victories He has provided for you.