Summary: What we choose to remember can powerfully affect our attitudes in the now. Sermon discusses how we can use our memory capacity to facilitate heart-felt worship.
Worship in Remembrance
(Fifty Days of Consecration #2)
Your capacity for memory—have you thought about how powerful that gift is—the ability to recall previous experience. It is the way we learn. It keeps us from having to learn the same things over and over again. When I was a toddler I learned something about the yellow wasp. When a wasp bites you, it really hurts! I was outside with my parents when I saw a yellow jacket (as we called them in Texas) sitting on a rock. It was a bright, beautiful yellow creature that needed to be explored. So I walked over to it and put my finger right on his back. Ever since that day when I see a wasp my memory serves me well. I remember an experience I do not want to repeat. As the old phrase goes, “Fool me once shame on you; fool me twice shame on me.” We can avoid repeating painful mistakes because we remember.
Memory is a powerful factor in the quality of our current experience. It has the power to turn on all kinds of emotion. If you recall an offense and think about it for awhile, you can make yourself sick with anger. If you recall a particularly joyous experience from the past, you can relive that experience and live in some of its joy once more.
What’s even more amazing about memory is how much power we have in choosing what we will remember. For the last couple of years I have been choosing to remember Greek words. Had I not been so intentional about the process I might remember a few just because of the exposure. But I decided to remember Greek words and applied myself to that process. I have not chosen to remember Hebrew words. I know a few but not very many. The difference has to do with the choices I have made.
This morning, we are going to talk about stewardship over memory. The discipline of remembrance--how are you doing with that spiritual discipline? Are your thoughts under control? Are you remembering the things that need to be remembered?
The Bible has a lot to say about remembrance. God has specified some specific things that we must not forget.
I. What are we told to Remember?
1. We are to remember God.
Listen to God’s instruction to His people in Deut 8:10-18 “Be careful that you do not forget the LORD your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. 12 Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, 13 and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, 14 then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 15 He led you through the vast and dreadful desert, that thirsty and waterless land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions. He brought you water out of hard rock. 16 He gave you manna to eat in the desert, something your fathers had never known, to humble and to test you so that in the end it might go well with you. 17 You may say to yourself, "My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me." 18 But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today.”
We know from the history of Israel that they did forget God. They discontinued serving Him and were ultimately judged as a result. In Deuteronomy God is addressing something very important for our future. He is saying to you and me as His people, “Make special effort to remember who God is—don’t forget what He is like—don’t allow other things to crowd into your life and cause you to forget. It’s interesting that this danger is particularly great when things are going well. Verse 12 “ Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, 13 and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, 14 then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God...” When we are in serious trouble we tend to remember God, don’t we? Ps 107:28 talks about people on the high seas in a terrible storm—they are being tossed about by the waves and are not sure they are going to make it. There in the midst of that storm they remember God—they cry out to God in prayer. But in times of prosperity we are tempted to take God for granted. Are you enjoying God’s blessings upon your life? Receive it all with thanksgiving; but never forget where it’s coming from. Never assume you deserve it and never assume you caused it to happen. Remember God!