Written in Stone


Stones are important in God’s word. From early in the Bible to the final book, God places great significance on stones. One of the things stones serve as in the history of God’s people are memorials. Stones get placed in remembrance of something that happened at or near that location, and an early example of that is in Genesis 28:18. Here Jacob builds a stone memorial that will help Him remember God’s promises to Him, and God wants us to remember His promises today.

A Law in Stone

We sometimes refer to things as written in stone when we really mean it. In fact, James 5:12 tells us our word should be like this. If I make a promise, it is as if it is written in stone. Our promise is a memorial like that stone memorial Jacob built memorialized God’s promises. Genesis 31 sees Jacob build another stone memorial to seal a promise between him and Laban. Our promises and God’s promises are strong as the rock of the earth.

Later, when God’s people would build alters, God wanted them to use uncut stones. Their alters were to be built with stones as God made them, not fashioned with man’s hands. Likewise, God’s covenant with His people were written in stone, and they were handed down from a great stone — Mount Sinai in Exodus 19-20. Those stone tablets would remain in the ark of the covenant as a perpetual reminder of the promises between God and His chosen.

II Corinthians 3:7 tells us our new covenant is not written on physical stones. Rather, that covenant is on our hearts, and it should be written there every bit as securely as if carved in stone. The glory of the old law is nothing compared to the perfect law of liberty written on our hearts. He gives us a new covenant that transforms us into a new image. We become living stones upon which His promises are written.

Teaching Stones

Stones were to memorialize, and they were meant to be teaching tools as well. When Joshua leads the people across the Jordan River in Joshua 3 and 4, he has twelve people bring stones across to build a memorial. The purpose is to teach future generations what happened at that place. Think of the monuments and memorials spread around our country that allow us to teach our children what happened in our nation’s history.

We should be teaching others about what God has done for us. We should be teaching about Christ’s great sacrifice. We have a memorial we observe every week about that sacrifice. Let’s use it to teach each other the importance of what happened. As we use earthly memorials to teach about what others have done for us, we should be all the more passionate about passing God’s word and His promises on to our children.

Landmark Stones

Deuteronomy 19:14 is an example of using stones as landmarks. They mark boundaries and special locations. They should be unmovable and unchangeable. God’s word is that landmark to us, unmovable and unchangeable. Our standards do not alter because of changing standards in the world, nor do we move one word of God’s covenant with us. Christ died once and for all, and His covenant is set in stone.

We are under a new covenant that Hebrews 8 outlines as stronger and better than the one that came before it, and we are all the stones that help build the kingdom of the covenant. We are building blocks, and each of us is important to help each other keep His word, teach each other of His promises and deliverance, and help support one another. I Peter 1:22-25 tells us that our lives are like grass, but God’s word is forever. If we place our trust in that rock, though our lives are short, our hope endures forever.

lesson by Herb Smelser

Family Influence

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We’ve discussed influence as having the ability affect or be affected by someone else. It’s the ability to alter someone else’s opinions, behaviors, and attitudes. We know that God should be our ultimate influence, but we also know we’re influenced by our friends, by our coworkers and managers, people in the media and other public figures, and we can be influenced by our families.

If we tally up all of our immediate and immediately extended family, many of us (though not all) will come with a larger number than we might expect. Spouses, parents, in-laws, children, siblings, nieces and nephews — we share love and influence with all of these people. Some may lead us to good decisions, and some might not. Some may set good examples, but others may not. What about me, however? What kind of influence do I have on my family?

Negative Family Influences in God’s Word

We can find plenty of examples of family dynamics in the Bible — both positive and negative. With Adam and Eve, we see Eve persuading Adam to eat the fruit forbidden to them. She allowed a bad influence to sway her, and she then influenced another to make the same bad choice. Likewise, Samson let the women in his life lead him astray, culminating in sharing a weakness with Delilah, which she then shared with his enemies.

In Isaac’s family, we see Jacob being treated as a favorite son, and Jacob uses that to his advantage at the counsel of his mother. Rebekah helps Jacob deceive his father and brother. Our example, our advice, and our guidance will determine what kind of influence we have. Ephesians 6:1–2 tells us to obey our parents in the Lord, and our children seek and desire our approval. We have to respect that influence, so we aren’t like those families in the Bible that misused their family influences.

Positive Family Influences in God’s Word

In contrast, look to Noah’s family. How crazy it must have seemed that Noah undertook the task that he did, but Noah had a positive influence on his family, and that influence saved their lives. Furthermore, we see Timothy in II Timothy 1:2–5 being raised by a mother and grandmother who were tremendously positive role models and teachers. We see no evidence that Timothy’s father had any interest in Timothy’s spiritual growth, but his mother and grandmother were. They affected a spirituality in Timothy that would serve as a great foundation for his lifelong service to God.

Our families can learn so much from us, and, in some cases, we might be the best chance some of our family members have at seeing Christ’s love in action. We can be a positive influence like Noah and like Lois and Eunice. We can share wisdom, morality, faith, and more. The truth is, we will sometimes slip and have a bad influence, but we should be striving for the good so they can see Christ in us more than the world.

Building a Christ-Centered Family

We might recognize a bad temper or impatience in ourselves. Perhaps we are unkind at times. We can replace these with patience, with encouragement, and with generosity. We can strive to be gentler, kinder, and more loving. This begins with the relationship we have with God, and it extends to the relationship we have with our families. We have to build relationships so we can be the good influence God wants us to be.

If we can let Christ be the center of our families and we are building the relationships with our family that we should, we have a foundation upon which we can build a strong Christian family. Let’s use the time we have to build our families up, to guide and correct where needed, and to encourage a Christ-centered life.

lesson by Aaron Kadel