Summary: God is at work all around us -- we need to seek what He is doing and get involved.
"LOOK WHAT GOD IS DOING!"
In my estimation, one of the greatest gifts that God has given us is the ability to remember. Because of this precious gift I will never forget what it was like to experience the birth of my children and the joy that Connie and I shared together in welcoming them into this world. Because of God's gift of memory I will always treasure, not just the surroundings, but the feelings I felt when I stood before the preacher and said "I do." Because I am able to remember I will always be able to have a laugh whenever I recall the Sunday that I gave the invitation for anyone who wanted to receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior and a cat came running down the aisle, jumped through the choir, and landed right in the baptistery. I hope you were here to experience that one! Because of memory I will always treasure the friendships the Lord has allowed me to share and the blessings that each of you have been to my life. Because of God's gift of memory I will always hold dear to my heart the way my mother and father made sacrifices so that I could have cleats to play ball, balls to play games, and clothes to go to school. I will always remember my mother and dad making cross-country trips in their little car when I was in college just so they could watch me play football. The ability to remember is truly one of God's greatest gifts when it is used in the manner in which the Lord has intended.
The gift of memory can also be used as a divisive and destruction tool in the hands of those who choose to use it to hold things against others or as an instrument to forecast a future of doom based upon an negative experience in the past. We can choose to remember a time when we were hurt by someone who professed to love God and therefore come to the conclusion that we don't want anything to do with God anymore. We can choose to remember a time when we took a risk and it failed and therefore choose to never take another risk again. We can choose to remember a time when we were taken advantage of by someone we forgave and therefore conclude that we will never forgive another person again. We can remember a time when we trusted someone only to be let down and therefore conclude that we will never trust again. We as a church could have chosen to remember a time when there were few of us here on Sunday and concluded that we will keep declining for the rest of our days. God didn't intend for us to use our memory in these ways. He wants us to be forgiving, He wants us to be trusting, He wants us to be people who are willing to take a risk for the Kingdom, and He wants us to be people who are filled with hope of a brighter day rather than filled with despair.
There are many uses of the precious gift God has given us called memory, but the greatest use of the gift is for us to remember what God has done in our lives. When we choose to use God's gift in this way, to remember what the Lord has done in the past, then it gives us great hope that He will act again. This is not some new idea that I've invented, it has been the practice of God's people since time began. There are 166 places in the Bible where we find the word, "remember." We are to remember the faithfulness of Almighty God, the mercy of Almighty God, the love of Almighty God, and the forgiveness of Almighty God each and every day of our lives.
For the next three weeks we are going to be focusing on the topic of stewardship. Stewardship is a fancy word, but really it is nothing more than our response to the memory of the mighty acts of God in each of our lives. This year I have chosen as our theme "Look What God Is Doing." Last week when I was thinking of a theme for our time of study, prayer, and commitment I thought about several different themes. I kept coming back to "Look What God Is Doing" because I am convinced that this is the heart of what real, genuine stewardship is all about. When we truly take time to consider, to remember what God has done, how He is using us to touch the lives of others, how He has blessed, and how He has seen us through the difficult times of our lives then we can do nothing else but respond with hearts overflowing with gratitude.