When you hear the word Ebenezer, what do you think of? Do you think of A Christmas Carol and a grumpy man named Ebenezer Scrooge?
Did you know that the word Ebenezer is a term used in the Bible that means “stone of help?”
In 1 Samuel chapter 7, we read that the Israelites are faced with their ever-present enemy, the Philistines. Samuel led the people to repent and cry out to the Lord, which they did. And because of their faith in God, He was with them and gave them a great and miraculous military victory. The priest and leader of Israel, Samuel, then “took a stone and set it up…and called its name Ebenezer, saying, ‘Thus far the Lord has helped us.’” (1 Samuel 7:12, NKJV, emphasis mine).
Why did Samuel do this? Why did he feel it was necessary to place an Ebenezer? Well, Samuel had been leading the people of Israel for a long time at this point, and he knew that these people could be forgetful of the powerful works of the Lord.
He knew that as time passed and life went back to normal after this season of war, the people would stop remembering what God had done for them. And Samuel never wanted the people of Israel to forget how the Lord had come through for them. He never wanted them to stop believing that the Lord had helped them in the past and would help them in the future.
I am so often like the Israelites. I am forgetful. I forget all of the wonderful things that the Lord has done and has provided for me. I forget how He miraculously answered prayer. Shamefully, I forget to tell Him thank you for taking such good care of me. And equally as bad, I forget to speak with my family and friends about the wonderful things the Lord has done. I need Ebenezer stones!
Psalm 77:11-12 says, “I will remember the works of the Lord; Surely I will remember Your wonders of old. I will also meditate on all of Your work, and talk of Your deeds.” (NKJV) Why is it so important to remember the deeds of God? It’s important, because just as Samuel said in 1 Samuel chapter seven, “Thus far, the Lord has helped me.”
When we remember God’s works, we can know that He has helped us up to this point in life and He will continue to do so. Remembering the work of the Lord builds our faith.
And why is it important to talk of His deeds? Because it builds the faith of others when we tell what God has done in our lives. No one can dispute the testimony of what God has done in your life and in mine.
Today, I want us to think about placing Ebenezer stones in our own lives:
- Has it been a while since you have recalled a wonderful provision that God made for you?
- Was there something for which you prayed and prayed and God answered, but perhaps you haven’t told Him thank you?
- When was the last time that you told your children the testimony of your salvation or of an answered prayer?
There are a few practical things we can do to set up Ebenezers. First, pray! Just simply say, “Lord, bring to my mind right now a wonderful provision that You have made for me. Help me to recall answered prayers and miracles that You have done in my life. Help me to share those memories with others in my life.”
Another wonderful way to remember God’s deeds is to simply bring them up in conversation. Tonight at dinner, let’s start a fantastic conversation about the Lord. I might say, “Did I ever tell you about the time that God provided for me?” Then I will tell my kids that I needed a job and just the right teaching position, for which I didn’t even apply, was open at just the right time. And then I might say, “Can you remember a time that God answered a prayer for you?”
Finally, let’s write down God’s good works! Something that I treasure is that my Grandma Betty wrote out her testimony for her family to have. She set up an Ebenezer stone that told exactly how the Lord had saved her. She didn’t want to forget it for herself, and she also wanted to tell of “the deeds of God” to her children and grandchildren.
Keeping prayer journals with records of answered prayer and writing down our testimonies for our family are practical and powerful ways to set Ebenezers in our lives.Psalm 136:3-4 says so beautifully, “Oh give thanks to the Lord of lords! For his mercy endures forever. To Him who alone does great wonders, for his mercy endures forever.” (NKJV)
Annie Boyd is a co-founder and contributor at The Gingham Apron, an online place of encouragement and inspiration. She is the co-author of The Gathering Table: Growing Strong Relationships through Food, Faith, and Hospitality. Annie lives in southern California with her family, enjoying both the mountains and beaches.