God Uses Reminders
In Joshua 4, God commanded His children to put up a pile of twelve stones as a reminder. The stones were specifically piled up in order to prompt their children’s questions! When your children shall ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean these stones? (Josh.4:6, 4:21). The parents’ response is to explain what He has done for them. The lesson is that God cares for His people and provides for us.
And those twelve stones, which they took out of Jordan, did Joshua pitch in Gilgal. And he spake unto the children of Israel, saying, When your children shall ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean these stones? Then ye shall let your children know, saying, Israel came over this Jordan on dry land. For the LORD your God dried up the waters of Jordan from before you, until ye were passed over, as the LORD your God did to the Red sea, which he dried up from before us, until we were gone over: That all the people of the earth might know the hand of the LORD, that it is mighty: that ye might fear the LORD your God for ever. (Josh 4:20-5:1)
In I Samuel 7 the Philistines took the Ark of God, and brought it from Ebenezer unto Ashdod. God was gracious to Israel and allowed the Ark to return after punishing the Philistines for taking the Ark. Samuel then took a “stone” and set it near Mizpah six miles north of Jerusalem. This large rock became a “war memorial” a reminder of God’s power in battle.
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they make them fringes in the borders of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of the borders a ribband of blue: And it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the LORD, and do them; and that ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes, after which ye use to go a whoring (Num 15:37-39).
The Hebrews have a tradition of placing a mezuzah on the doorposts of their homes (Deut 6:4-9 and 11:13-21). It is customary, upon entering or leaving a Jewish residence, to reverently touch the mezuzah. This reverence acknowledges belief in the “Shema Israel” Hear, 0 Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is one. (Deut 6:4). Several Christians have adopted this tradition as well.
I once read about a pastor who displayed a smooth, polished rock on his desk inscribed, “The First Stone” as a continual reminder from John 8:7, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone.
Some people wear a mustard seed pendant necklace as a reminder of Jesus words If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you (Matt. 17:20). The rainbow is also a prompt, to remind us of God’s covenant with Noah.
I have a friend who uses each shirt she irons as a reminder to pray for that family member. I have another friend who uses each day of the week as a reminder to pray for a specific grandchild.
The superstition of walking under a ladder being bad luck actually began as a reminder to remember God, because medieval theologians suggested a ladder leaning against a wall forms a triangle and therefore is a symbolic reminder of the Holy Trinity.
Creation reveals God. Jesus used ordinary things the people interacted with daily such as fish, sheep, fruit, and bread to illustrate spiritual truths. We need spiritual reminders, and we need to use such reminders to teach our children. We don’t interact with the outdoors the way the people did in Bible days but we can get creative and bring reminders in our home.
Our Kitchen Vineyard
I decorate my home with reminders of Bible lessons. We have the Ten Commandments on our living room wall, and a ram’s horn on display. We have a large picture of Jerusalem to remind us to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. We have a special meal and light candles Friday evening, the beginning of the weekly Sabbath, to remember to honor the fourth commandment.
The Bible is full of rich spiritual illustrations using the vineyard and if we lived in Bible times we would probably be near or pass by vineyards often. However, since we don’t pass by any vineyards I brought some vineyard reminders into my home through decor.
Our home is decorated with the rich colors of the vineyard—deep purple, burgundy, and greens. Our kitchen and dining area are decorated with a vineyard theme. The decor is a reminder like the stones in Joshua. John 15 records one of Jesus’ last messages to His disciples before His death.
Jesus chose a vine and branches to show us the way to a life of fruitfulness.
I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.
The vineyard motif gives me several opportunities to remind my children about how the vine’s dependence on the branch is a model of our relationship with Christ.
The vine reminds us that must stay in Jesus to bring forth good fruit. If we keep His commandments, we will remain in His love. As we abide in Jesus we see more and more of Him and grow more and more like Him. Our job is simply to remain.
To remain is to hold fast and stay in loving obedience. We are not just staying with Him, standing nearby, watching what is going on. We are linked to Him, grafted into Him. Our identity and existence are bound up in Him.
Israel is also God’s vine or vineyard; see Isaiah 5:1–7, 27:2–6; Jeremiah 2:21, 12:10; Ezekiel 17:5–6; Hosea 10:1; Joel 1:7; Psalm 80:8–16.The vine symbolizes both the Jewish people and our Messiah and reinforces the close identification of Jesus with Israel (Mt 2:15). God’s remnant, the Hebrews, and the grafted-in branches (Ro. 9:6ff., 11:1–10, 17-24) will obey His commands, stay attached to the true vine, and have the true vine’s power and strength that results in bringing forth good fruit (Matt. 7:16–19).
Drying the dishes with grapevine adorned dish towels or cooking with grapevine cookware is our prompt of several Bible lessons such as reaping and sowing or a discussion about how a successful harvest must be preceded by timely planting and on-going care (watering, weeding, etc.). Jesus taught using such parables that show things we value take time and nourishment. There’s no quick fix for healthy, lasting, relationships in a friendship, marriage, family, or elsewhere. If we neglect them now, we can’t expect positive results later.
I pray that my children will see the reminders and remember that Jesus taught If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.
I want it to be foremost in their minds that in any living vine, the function of a branch is to bear fruit. But it cannot fulfill its purpose unless it remains in actual living connection with the vine.
Without applying that cherished remain in Me relationship, it will never complete what it was intended for. They need to know that those who fail to remain in Him will be as unfilled as that of a branch torn from the vine with no prospect for fruit bearing.
A real illustration of this would be to bring in a vine cut from a branch, make it your centerpiece or conversation piece for a few days as it dies.
The vineyard images are also a reminder of the Proverbs 31 woman who saves up money and, instead of squandering it, buys a field, purchases some seed, and plants a vineyard.The husbandman pruning the vineyard reminds us there is sin in our lives.
The Greek word for prune means, literally, to clean. To clean of excess foliage is to prune, but the context also clearly implies cleansing from sin. The only way to continue to be clean (pruned) and to bear fruit is to maintain a vital spiritual connection with Christ the vine.
Reminders are the method God told us to use to teach our children. Each of the Biblical Holidays listed in Lev 23 tells a story to remind us of God’s mercy and faithfulness.
Include reminders like these in your home decor. Wouldn’t a lamb theme be perfect for an infant or toddler nursery? Think of all the sheep and shepherd story prompts.
Pray God will reveal things to you to teach your children. A quilt can be a prompt to talk about Joseph’s coat of many colors. Baking bread has numerous lessons from the loaves and fishes, to unleavened bread being symbolic of Christ, or the bread of idleness mentioned in Proverbs. Of course, the greatest reminder of all is an open Bible.