Precious Memories

Scripture: Deuteronomy 8:11-17
Date: 07/05/2003 
We can sometimes have a hard time remembering things. God wants us never to forget Him. Not remembering can be deadly when it comes to spiritual things. We are especially admonished to remember God's law.
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Note: This is a verbatim transcript of the live broadcast. It is presented as spoken.

Our message this morning is called “Precious Memories” and you heard in our scripture reading there from I Peter, three times the apostle admonished us to remember, to “bring to our remembrance.” Now how many of you struggle sometimes with remembering things? Do any of you remember the days when people would walk around with a red string around their finger or you’ve seen people, I’ve seen people they’ve got little notes on their hands. And people have a variety of techniques and methods to try to remember things. God has given us in his word memorials to help us remember things. Sometimes it was a stack of stones. Sometimes it was encartified in writings. Sometimes it was a day that would help them remember an event.

The Jewish feasts were designed to help them remember God’s leading. You know why we need these things is because we’re prone to forget. We struggle remembering things and one of the great dangers is of course that we will forget about God. And the devil that’s his plan to keep our minds so overcharged with the cares of this life that we forget what really matters. You heard about the man that went into the doctor’s office and he said, “Doctor,” he says, “I’m having a real problem with my memory. I just can’t seem to remember anything from one minute to the next.” And the doctor said, “Well, how long have you had this problem?” And he said, “What problem?” Any of you getting up there where you… Who was it that said they walk into a room and they forget what they came in for. Now I don’t know if any of you would dare admit this, but sometimes I’m busy making phone calls and I’ll dial a number and while I’m waiting for that phone to answer I’ll be thinking of someone else I need to call or something else I need to do and someone will pick up the phone, they’ll go, “Hello?” And I go, “Who are you? Who are you and why did I call you?” Anyone else?

Oh, good. I… And most of the time I’ll recognize the voice. Sometimes I’ll go, “Um… say your name,” and they’ll hang up. They’ll think I’m a teleprompter, what do you have? One of those telemarketer callers. And I’ll call them back, I’ll say, “It’s Pastor Doug. I just forgot who you were and why I called.” And then they’ll usually laugh. They’ll say, “I’ve done the same thing.” You pick up the phone and you call someone, you forget who you called. That’s pretty bad, but you know life is really composed of memories. Who was it, Tennessee Williams who said, “Life is all a memory except for one present moment that goes by so quickly you hardly catch it going by.” Isn’t that right? Most of what you live on and by is your memories and he who does not remember does not learn because learning is really composed of your memories. Now we all remember different things and memories are generally triggered by things.

How many of you all of a sudden have what we call dejavous? You know you’re walking through the market and they start playing a song on the speaker and all these memories come flooding back into your mind about where you were and what you were doing one day when you were listening to that song? Anybody? You’ve had music bring back memories. Music is very powerful about that. That is why God put so much scripture in music in the Psalms because music has a way to help you remember words. Or I don’t know about you but sometimes I will smell something that brings back a memory. When I smell diesel my mind is transported back twenty-five years when I was on this ship that sailed around the Mediterranean. One of the jobs on the ship was, it wasn’t very computerized.

There was a great big engine on this sailboat. It was a sailboat but it had an engine too and someone had to stay in the engine room and watch the oil pressure gauge and the temperature gauge and they wanted someone visually watching the engine. Now I’m sure they’ve got video cameras that take care of that. But sitting in the engine room, hot, in the middle of the bowels of that ship with it bouncing around, it was not a very pleasant experience and that smell of the diesel. And whenever I smell diesel I have that memory. I remember one time going to the movies and my grandmother or somebody bought one of these rolls of candy and I don’t even remember what they’re called but they taste like root beer, candies that taste like root beer. And she gave me the whole thing. And you don’t do that with a five year old boy. I ate the whole thing and I got violently sick and now whenever I smell root beer that’s what I think of. Mind goes that far back. It might be with music.

It could be with smells. Sometimes it might be with certain dates. Karen is really good about that. I have problems with numbers. I don’t remember numbers very well and I barely remember my own birthday, but you know I’ll sometimes have people write me letters and give me notes and they’ll be commemorating a certain date when something happened and I don’t remember. And I remember shortly after our first anniversary, not our wedding anniversary, I remember that one. But the anniversary of when we started to date, I failed to make note of that. It was Superbowl time. See? That’s how I remember now. It was sometime, when is that January? Yeah, it was sometime in January and Karen said, “You know what this is?” I’m going, “Uh…” Boy I was just… You know that’s a loaded question. Don’t do that to your husbands. You know you can hear the processor going grrr, grrr, grrr… what is this? She says, “This is the anniversary.” And I thought, “I thought for sure we got married in November.” She said, “No, this is the anniversary of when we first started dating.” I failed to make a note of that. But there are different numbers.

You give me your phone number; I’ll have a really hard time. My grandfather I think he’s autistic. He must be. Ninety one years old and he’ll remember every zip code and phone number of everywhere he’s lived through his life. You ever met anybody like that? Just numbers. They think in numbers. It’s just he’s got that gift. But some of us remember pictures. You show me a picture I’ll remember it. I think in pictures. I’m a very visual person. Now the problem is sometimes I’ll meet people and their picture has changed and I don’t recognize them and that can get you into trouble. People will meet me at the door and they’ll say, “Do you remember me?” I remember H.M.S. Richards, Sr. he had a way of dealing with that because he met so many thousands of people. People would say, “Do you remember me?” He’d say, “How could I forget?” and he’d hope in the interval he’d remember them. But sometimes people don’t look the same after a few years.

Sometimes they’re not the same size and now I can say, “Well, you know I’ve gotten glasses since I last saw you last. I didn’t recognize you.” What’s really embarrassing is I’ll meet somebody and they’ll say, “You baptized me.” I met someone a couple weeks ago, they said, “You did our wedding.” Oh, and I didn’t recognize them. Of course it’s been fifteen, twenty years, but you feel really bad at times like that. Not remembering can be very embarrassing. Not remembering can be deadly when it comes to the things of God. You know there’s a great deal in the word of God where he tells us about how important it is to remember. Not to begin with and there’s not any specific order to some of these points I want a share with you but there’s some important points I’d like to highlight. First of all, God tells us not to forget his law, not to forget him in particular but his law as well. Deuteronomy chapter eight, now I’m going to give you several verses here.

When he brought them into the Promised Land the Lord admonished his people to be careful not to forget. If you get a rebate or if you get a coupon for a can of soup or some you know $1.00 rebate you know we might misplace that. It might go in the garbage. I don’t know, I don’t go to a lot of lengths to save coupons because it almost seems like sometimes it’s more work than it’s worth, but if you get a check for $10,000.00 do you make a note of where you put that? Do you know why? Because it’s valuable. How valuable is God? How valuable is eternal life? Could we misplace him? “Do not forget the Lord your God,” but do we forget the Lord our God? Do we forget he’s watching us all the time? Judging by the way sometimes we behave and talk, we must think that God isn’t around.

We forget him. “Be aware that you do not forget the Lord your God by keeping His commandments and His judgments and His statutes that I command you today.” And then he warns how this can happen. “…when I bring you into the Promised Land lest when you have eaten in your full, and you’ve built beautiful houses and you dwell in them and when your herds and your flocks multiply and your silver and your gold are multiplied and that all that you have is multiplied,” God wants to bless you but “be careful when your heart is lifted up and you forget the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt from the house of bondage.” You know sometimes we can become so enamored with the gift that we forget the person who gave us the gift and we end up loving the gift more than the giver and this is a danger God warns us against. We want all the blessings of God and then when we have these blessings we become satisfied we forget who gave us the blessings. He can take them away too. You know I was looking in Psalm 119. I just took one Psalm. Of course it is the longest chapter in the Bible. But listen to all the references and this is not all of them; listen to the multiple references that are given to be careful not to forget. If you were to name Psalm 119 with something other than a name you’d name it the Psalm of remembering God’s law.

Here’s what he says. Verse 16, Psalm 119, “I will delight in Your statutes. I will not forget your word.” Psalm 119:83, “For I have become a wineskin in smoke, yet I do not forget Your statutes.” Verse 93, “I will never forget Your precepts, for by them You’ve given me life.” If you had a prescription and you knew you needed to take one of these pills every day… All right back up. I want to ask the question differently first. Have any of you ever forgotten to take your medicine? Okay. What if that medicine… what if your life depended on that medicine and if you failed to take that teaspoon or that pill you were going to die how many of you would find it easier to remember? Would you put a string around your finger? Would you write on your hand or forehead to keep from forgetting? You know the Lord says in Deuteronomy chapter 6, “These words that I command you today shall be in your heart.” You don’t forget what’s in your heart. We sometimes forget what’s in our head, but you don’t forget what’s on your head. Actually I forget sometimes I’ve got a hat on. “They’ll be as frontlets between your eyes and write them upon your hand.” Now do you know the Jewish people took that literally. If you go to Israel today you’ll see orthodox Jews that are walking around with a little box hanging down a flactry a little box on their forehead. Any of you seen this? They’ll have one on their hand. They took the statement of Moses literally and what God really meant was I want the law of God in your mind and in your actions. Don’t forget.

You notice the Mark of the Beast is in the forehead and the hand too. It’s telling us about the laws of the beast. Don’t forget. “Teach them to your children when you rise up, when you go to sleep at night” because we’re so inclined to forget. Verse 109, I’m still in Psalm 119, “My life is continually in my hand, yet I do not forget Your law.” Verse 141, “I am small and despised, yet I do not forget Your precepts.” Verse 153, “Consider my affliction and deliver me, for I do not forget Your law.” Verse 176, “I have gone astray like a lost sheep; Seek your servant, for I do not forget Your commandments.” The emphases, why do you think God takes this time and goes to such lengths to remind us to remember? You know I think that the devil works on getting us to forget.

A good magician knows that the secret to deception is distraction. How many of you know that? A good trick is pulled, usually you know of course it’s not magic unless they’re dabbling with the occult most of it is just slight of hand. We baptized a fellow in Michigan who was a professional magician. He even owned a magician store and whenever I’d get together with him he’d want to ask me Bible questions I’d keep wanting to say, “Tell me more about what you did.” I found it intriguing. And he said, “All of it is distraction.” It’s all distraction. You get people to think about something else and he said it is so easy to distract people. And he said he would pull people out of a crowd and he could pick people judging by just a few criteria that were easily distracted and they were the best subjects to pull off the sleight of hand. You get them looking this way and you’re doing something here or you’re slipping the card or the coin or whatever it is that they’re doing and it’s all diverting of attention. The devil, you don’t think he’s good at that? He’s the one that teaches the magicians. He is a master of distraction and he gets us so preoccupied with looking this way and looking that way and the cares of this life that we forget God. How could you forget God? We can’t take another breath without him. Does he ever forget us? And yet we forget him.

We need to pray that God will give us grace to remember scripture. Now that’s very valuable. How many of you (don’t show me your hands) are you making a conscious effort in your devotions to remember scripture? You realize reading scripture is different from memorizing scripture. Karen’s Bible study group is taking a break for the summer but I knew when they got together, what do you use, Dear, the FAST program? And I would walk through sometimes and I would hear them all saying a verse together. You know during our Sabbath school class it begins with a memory verse. Not the one in a hundred actually tries to remember the memory verse. But you know these things are going to really be precious someday. God’s promises are what’s going to get us through. Karen and I were watching this video of these prisoners of war during the Vietnam War that were in the Hanoi Hilton. And every little fragment of scripture that they had learned at some time in their life was so precious to them when they were in isolation and being tortured every day. And I’ve thought to myself, I may go to prison for my faith some day. I sure hope it’s for my faith, if at all! But if I do, if they take away my Bible, how much will I have up here? That frightens me. It’s so important that we commit scripture to memory. What would have happened to Noah and the animals if they had not stored food for the storm? Is there a storm coming? Jesus said the storm is coming. He that builds on the rock is going to stand. We need to now be storing away food, God’s bread of life that is going to sustain us. We need some spiritual calories. Amen? That are stored away to sustain us during that time when maybe our Bibles are going to be taken away and all we have is what’s in our hearts.

You realize that the children of Israel they did not have scrolls and Bibles in every home. They were very precious. When the priest or the Levite would teach the word of God typically once a week they would work to memorize those verses and I understand that during the time of Christ that before a boy was Bar mitzvah they would memorize the entire book of Deuteronomy. That shouldn’t surprise you that every time Jesus was tempted by the devil he quoted the Bible back to the devil. What book did he quote from? The book of Deuteronomy. Some of us, we know John 3:16 or one or two of the Ten Commandments the short ones like “Thou shalt not kill” but that’s it. Any of you ever heard of Byron Speers the minister? They call him the walking Bible and I saw him at an evangelism council earlier this year do his whole evangelistic meeting. I had tremendous respect for this man. He’s ninety-something now. Do a whole evangelistic meeting. He would never open his Bible. He had it in his mind and he would do night after night quote verse after verse and I visited with him one time when he did some meetings at Capitol City and I tried to impress him and I cited a verse on a certain subject. He said, “You misquoted that.” I just left a little word out like “the” or something, but he corrected me. Walking Bible. Karen was reading last night about H.M.S. Richards, Sr. He would read his bible through every year sometimes several times a year, read the New Testament through every month, Dear? Read his whole Bible through many, many times.

Matter of fact his father made him a promise when he was a young man. He said, “You read your Bible through and I’ll give you” what? “a dollar. And I’ll double it every time you read it through.” And I think by the time he got to… you know you start doing the math on that. Double, you know what quantum mathematics is and once you got to twenty times he owed him a million dollars. He had to ask for mercy out of the contract because he just couldn’t do it any more. He was on the podium preaching and people who were there watching him preach noticed he held his Bible upside down because even though he was preaching and quoting scriptures he didn’t even turn to them. His Bible upside down didn’t make any difference at all because he had it all in his head. People would laugh. He didn’t even know he had his Bible upside down, didn’t look at it. He didn’t want the people to think that he didn’t have his Bible with him so he carried it as a prop, but he said, “Thy word I have hid in my heart that I might not sin.” You know you can’t teach the Koran in a mosque until you’ve memorized the entire book. One missionary coming back from one of these Buddhist countries said she heard some of the Buddhist priests reciting their sacred texts from memory for twenty-three hours straight with very few mistakes and Christians are so indifferent about memorizing scripture. Now it takes work to memorize and I’ll get to that in just a little bit the things that we can do in a practical way. Mark 9:31. Typically Christians forget. Jesus told the disciples again and again. These were the apostles, the leaders of the church, I’m going to Jerusalem. I’ll be “‘betrayed into the hands of men, they will kill Him. And after He’s killed, three days later He’ll rise.’ But they did not understand this saying and were afraid to ask him.” It just didn’t sink in. Mary was listening and that could be why she made that offering to anoint him for his burial.

Then you read in chapter 27 of Matthew after Jesus died and everything he predicted happened (he told them it was going to happen) they forgot. How much did they suffer and mourn because they forgot his word? Needlessly grieved because they did not remember what he had told them was going to happen but his enemies remembered. “The next day after the crucifixion,” that’s the Sabbath, “the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered to Pilate, and they said, ‘Sir, we remember. We remember, while He was still alive how He said, “I’ll rise after three days.”’” How did they remember? How is it possible that the disciples were all wringing their hands and mourning and his enemies said, “We remember what he said”? Why does, I guess Jesus said “the children of this world are wiser than the children of light” and it seems like the pagans do better at memorizing their sacred texts than the Christians do. When Jesus rose from the dead then the disciples remembered what he had said to him. Well, that’s good. After he rose, then they remembered. Luke 24:6-8, “The angel said, ‘Remember how He told you while He was in Galilee, saying, ‘The Son of Man will be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified, and rise again the third day?’ Then they remembered.”

The angels were chastising the apostles saying, “Don’t you remember that He said this was going to happen? Why are you weeping?” I wonder how much we needlessly suffer because we forget God’s promises. I wonder how much suffering and anxiety we could avert if we would memorize scripture now. “Thy word I have hid in my heart that I might not sin.” I wonder how much trouble we could stay out of. You remember what Jesus said to Peter? “Before the night is over you’ll deny me three times.” Now we know better now, right? If you’re having dinner with Jesus and he told you that you’d have a string on your finger, you’d have a warning on your forehead, you’d write on your hand and you’d say, “Don’t deny the Savior. Don’t deny the Lord. Don’t deny the Lord. Don’t deny the Lord.” And you’d do everything you could to keep that from happening, but Peter just said, “Not me,” and he blew it away, brushed it aside, and it wasn’t until the rooster crowed twice, it says, “Then he remembered” what Jesus said, “and he went out and he wept bitterly.” Why is he weeping? Because he had forgotten the warning that Jesus gave him. I wonder how much we suffer because we forget. I wonder how much trouble we could avoid if we would say, “Lord, help me to remember.” We need to remember to pray. We forget to pray. I’m embarrassed to tell you this but a few weeks ago I got to church Sabbath morning. Now I pray every morning. That’s my habit, but sometimes things happen. I don’t even remember what happens.

It might mean that sometimes the kids wake up earlier than they’re supposed to and they come down and I get distracted. It could mean that somebody called. I think actually that’s what it was. Somebody called, there’s some new crisis, but I got to church and I just, something didn’t feel right. Here I’m going to teach Sabbath School, I’m going to preach the sermon and I’m thinking, you know, and then all of a sudden it occurred to me. Here I was the pastor. I’ve got my sermon together. I did my study, got to Sabbath School, I had not yet been on my knees that day, had not prayed. I’d forgotten. Why? The devil is a master of distraction, isn’t he? And using his diversionary tactics here I am I’m going to come and talk to everybody about how wonderful God is, I had not even prayed that day and I felt like such a hypocrite. I went in the back room there and I knelt down and I prayed and had to ask God to forgive me for forgetting. Is forgetfulness a sin? Well, let me ask you this way. It’s not a sin if you can’t help it. Anything you do wrong that you cannot avoid doing wrong is not really a sin if you have absolutely no control. Sin is usually because you’ve made a choice consciously or unconsciously. Sin can come through neglect too, can’t it? Is it a sin to forget? When we can remember it is. If we make no effort to remember. And sometimes we forget things that are really important. We need to remember to pray. That’s why in the Lord’s Prayer we say, “Give us this day our daily bread.” You know why we pray for daily bread?

Because we can only remember things from one day to the next. Every day we need to read God’s word. I Corinthians 10:14, the Bible says King Saul was slain because he did not inquire of the Lord therefore He killed him. Forgetting to inquire of the Lord can be deadly. You remember Joshua and the children of Israel made a covenant with the Gibeonites because they forgot to ask God. Jesus commands us to ask. Psalm 55:17, “Evening morning and at noon will I pray.” Why do we need to pray three times a day? Why would you pray just before you go to sleep? Well, a couple of reasons. One is biblically a day ends at sundown and sometimes we need to get our records straight, right? Another reason is to thank him for his blessings, ask him for his forgiveness, but three times a day we need to pray because we forget about God. If you did not have an appestat, if you did not have taste buds, you might forget to eat. Any of you been so busy you forgot to eat? I have. All of a sudden it gets to be three o’clock and you say, “What is that feeling? Oh, I haven’t eaten anything today.” Just get so involved. But eventually we remember, right? We need to hunger and thirst after righteousness and have that attitude about God that we’ve got about prayer. Daniel prayed three times a day. Do you remember anything anyone has ever said to hurt your feelings?

Can you think of any insult that anyone has ever made in your life? Can you? Why? Because it hurt you. How about a compliment? Has anyone ever said anything really nice to you? Maybe they’re very rare. Do you remember some of those compliments? Someone said something and you thought, “That was really nice.” You know the nicest compliment I get is when someone says to me, “My child enjoyed your sermon.” Or “My child enjoys your programs.” To me that’s one of the highest compliments is when someone tells me something like that. You remember things like that. Or little criticisms we remember. Why? Because it effects the heart. When we forget God does it hurt Him in His heart? Yeah. It’s an issue of the heart. Forgetting to pray does that. Genesis 40:14, Joseph is in prison. Who does Joseph represent? Listen carefully to what I’m saying. Joseph is a type of Christ, sold by his brothers, they covered their sin with a bloodstained robe. Our sin is covered by a bloodstained robe. Joseph is a type of Christ. He is in prison. Has he done anything wrong? He is in prison because he’s covering up someone else’s sin. It was Potiphar’s wife at this case.

While he’s in prison he interprets a dream and he tells the butler, “You are going to be free. You are going to be in the palace. I’ll still be here. Don’t forget me. I’ve done you a favor, I’ve interpreted the dream. I’ve given you good news. Don’t forget me.” “Oh, no, no. I won’t forget you.” Does he forget about Joseph? Can you imagine how Joseph felt after weeks and months went by and he’s still in prison and he knows that the butler is in the palace enjoying palatial living and every day that goes by Joseph says, “He doesn’t remember me. I gave him good news and he forgot me.” How do you think Jesus feels when He died to save us and we forget Him? We don’t think about Him, we don’t talk to Him; we need to remember prayer. Finally after two years the butler said, “I remember my faults this day.” Finally remembered Joseph that was languishing in prison. Now there’s a time to forget our mistakes and there’s a time to remember our mistakes. Sometimes it’s appropriate to remember regrets. You know why you repent of sin? Because you remember your sins. How can you confess your sins if you don’t remember them? Do you remember what hurts you? Is that a good thing or a bad thing? How does a child learn? I remember one time Stephen when he was a baby was playing with some keys and he took a key ring and he stuck a couple of keys in the two different outlets. Now if you get one in that doesn’t do it, but if you get the key ring and you get two on the same ring in together it’ll give you quite a jolt. He never did that again.

You know we remember what hurts us. I remember one day I was using some paint remover. And you know I’ve painted many times and for some reason I didn’t think paint remover was any more deadly than paint and I got some on my hands. Any of you ever do that? Pretty soon I felt this burning sensation. I couldn’t get to the water fast enough. It was actually breaking down my skin! As I was washing the paint remover off it was taking my calluses off too. I’ve never made that mistake again because my hands burned for days. I had the stuff all over my hands. It was eating away my hands. I didn’t know. You remember certain things that hurt you and that’s good. It helps you keep from making the same mistakes but how often, in spite of the regret and the pain from doing something that disappoints God, we do it again? You know the devil wants you to forget about the hangover and remember the party and he gets you to keep making the same mistakes. Sometimes it’s healthy to remember what hurts us, amen? But I’ll straighten that out in just a minute. I don’t want to leave you with… there’s some things God wants us to forget. With some people a good conscience is really nothing more than a bad memory. That was funny. You didn’t hear that? Some people think they’ve got a good conscience and the only reason they’ve got a good conscience is they’ve got a bad memory. We want to remember His blessings. Say, “Amen!” Psalm 103:2, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits.” Now that doesn’t mean you’ve got to remember them all.

You can’t remember them all. You don’t even know them all, but don’t forget them all. That’s the point. He’s given us so much. Don’t forget all of his benefits. In your prayers, when you pray, how many of you have a list? A prayer list? You mind my asking? Oh, more of you ought to have a prayer list. I’ve got a prayer list. I forget to look at it. It’s true sometimes. But people ask you to pray for them, there are many things we need to pray about, we forget. Our prayer times I think would be a little more precise if we would make a list. I’m talking about not your family prayer, and it might not be bad for your family prayer to have a list and specific people and things you pray about, but make a list for your private devotions and get on your knees when you’re by yourself and look at it because there are people who have asked for prayer who have spoken to you and we forget. It’s a good idea. I’ve made it a point. People come up to me all the time and they say, “Pastor Doug, please pray for me.” Usually what I’ll do because I know I’m going to forget, I’ll say, “Let’s do it right now,” or if because of circumstances I can’t pray for them right then, I’ll say, “I’ll do my best to remember.” Or “pray for my son” or “pray for this issue” because I feel so bad. So many times I’ll say to people, “Yes, I’ll pray for you.” And then I forget and I’m hoping that’s not going to run in, I don’t want to meet that in the judgment so I try to be more careful or I write it down and make it a note.

It’s a good idea to record things if you’re going to be forgetting them. You know why we’ve got the Bible? Because we forget. God preserved this book. Up ‘til the time of Moses what was the Bible? People’s minds were so much better back then that they used to pass things down orally and they used to remember it all. But you know our memories, we’re in the age where they’re weaker than any other time in history. You know why? Because we have so much, so many ways now to record information that how many of you remember when you did math longhand and the teacher would say, “Leave your work on the page. I want to look and see how you found the solution.” Now they’ve got calculators. What do you think that does to a kid’s brain? The only people smart are the computer programmers, right? Because we’ve got everything else is done for us. All the data is saved somewhere but our minds get weak so we’ve got to pray that God will help us remember. Oh, where was I? Remember His blessings. Psalm 105:5, “Remember His marvelous works that He has done, His wonders, and the judgments of His mouth.” It’d be nice if we could forget our troubles the way we forget our blessings. Some of us, we forget our blessings and only think about our blessings. If we could only switch that around. Would you like to know how to improve your memory? Anybody? I spent some money a few years ago and I bought a set of tapes on improving your memory. I forgot where I put them. That is the absolute truth. Some of you think I’ve got a great memory.

There are some things I remember. I remember the Word of God and certain truths. You know why? Here, I’m going to tell you why right now. This is a study somebody did that’s fairly accurate. I want to thank Ed Reed for giving me a copy of this. “You remember approximately ten percent of what you read, twenty percent of what you hear.” That means everything that you did in school, maybe thirty percent. “Thirty percent of what you see,” we’re more visual than we are auditory. “Fifty percent of what you both see and hear.” What does that do to television? It’s audio and visual, isn’t it? “Seventy percent of what you discuss with others.” When you share something you’ll remember the majority. “Eighty percent of what we write or experience personally and ninety-five percent of what we teach someone else.” We remember by speaking. Now when I do public evangelism I use these facts to tell the evangelists the best way to communicate the truth to other people is you want to show it to them, you want to tell it to them, you want to get them then to tell it to somebody else and as soon as we become involved in sharing the message with somebody else it becomes rooted in our own minds. Amen? As you get older you know your memory isn’t as good. I forget, oh, yeah. Just last night when Karen and I were watching that Billy Graham tape I was amazed at how sharp he was for how old is he now? Eighty? He must be near eighty or nearly eighty years of age. I think he’s my dad’s age. He’s probably eighty-one and I was amazed at how sharp he was when he’s preaching and he went through his presentation and I thought to myself, “Well, you know part of the reason for that he’s been doing it for sixty years.” And so when you do something like that those memories are usually close to the surface. There’s three things that I especially don’t like about getting old; one is losing your memory and I don’t remember the other two.

I borrowed that from Ronald Reagan. I’m sorry. That’s true. He used to say that. We forget from lack of use. When you use something you’re more inclined to remember it. When I came back from Russia, Karen and I were there for six weeks, never been there before, I haven’t been back since, but during that six weeks we had a translator with us almost twenty-four hours a day and everything I said in English was instantly repeated in Russian and my sermons were up on the screen in Russian and the texts were in Russian and you know it was a crash course in a language. By the end of my trip there in Russia my translator lost her voice and I had to meet with the church leaders and plan our last Sabbath, no translator. And you know what? I was able to communicate with them. I’m sure it was very halting. This week I met a girl who was in a restaurant Thursday, spoke Russian and all I could say was “Hello, good-bye.” (repeats in Russian) and just a few little phrases. It was all gone. But the meeting I went to Thursday was a meeting of the Spanish leaders in North America and I used to converse in Spanish a little bit where I was around some Spanish friends that didn’t speak English all day long and you learn to talk, but that’d been several years ago. But after just one afternoon of being surrounded with Spanish church workers I got on the Southwest Airline flying back home, wanted to read something, got the middle seat. You know it’s like a cattle carrier. And so all I could do, couldn’t look out the window, couldn’t get up and so all I someone had left a magazine in my seat and so I pulled it out and just wanted something to read and so I’m thumbing through the magazine and I’m thinking, “I must be really tired.

I’m having a hard time concentrating on this article.” Then it occurred to me it was a Spanish magazine. I thought, I’m doing pretty good. I was actually taking some of it in. I was so tired I didn’t even realize I’m trying to read a Mexican magazine, but you know through use it comes back to you. And sometimes Karen will come upstairs and I’ve got the Spanish station on and she’ll go, “What are you doing?” I thought, “Well, I’m trying to learn.” I don’t want forget what little I used to know. So one of the ways you remember is through involvement. We sometimes remember by memorials. We don’t want to forget our freedom. That’s why we’ve got the Fourth of July. Why do we have the Sabbath day? Why does God say, “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy”? first of all one reason he says “remember” is he knows we’re inclined to forget. I think he knew the whole church would forget which they largely have. When do you start remembering the Sabbath, sundown or all week long? It’s just there to keep God fresh in our minds. It’s that special time with the lord and it’s supposed to be a precious memory. Another way to remember is God’s Spirit will bring to our remembrance the things that are important. “But the helper, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things and He will bring to your remembrance the things that I have told you.” You know this promise is really special. When we have our Bible answer programs Sunday night we often don’t know what the person is going to say.

Sometimes we’ll have something on the screen that will just say “baptism,” we don’t know what they’re going to ask. And we pray before that program, “Lord, give us the gift of the Holy Spirit to bring to our remembrance the verses and answers that will help this person.” Do you think God answers that prayer? He does. When you’re sharing your faith with someone else and you’re not sure exactly how to meet with some of their questions, you pray that prayer, “Lord, give me Your Holy Spirit and help me remember the verses and things that Jesus has shared with me.”

Now there is also a time when you want to remember to forget. You know what I’m talking about? Philippians 3:13, “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things that are behind and reaching forward to the things that are ahead, I press towards the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” There are some things you want to forget. If you just spend all your time beating yourself up for your past mistakes you’re going to stay in a constant state of insecurity and discouragement. You need to know how to forgive yourself and forget. You need to know how to forget other offenses and slights that people have committed against you. A few years ago somebody did something that really hurt me.

I felt betrayed. It offended me. So I sat down at my computer. I wrote a scathing masterpiece. I don’t want you all to know how gifted I can be when I have to be at wordsmithing a very sharp, cutting letter and it was. I’d read it over and I’d just go, “Ooh!” and then the Holy Spirit said, “Doug, you’re supposed to forgive others the way you want God to forgive you.” I said, “Oh, no, Lord. I need to put this in e-mail and press send.” “Doug! Forget it.” “Oh, no!” And you know what? The Lord labored with me until finally I took that file, I highlighted it, I went to that key, you know what that key is called? Delete. Usually you’ve got to watch that key. I pressed it, it said, “Are you sure?” I said, “Lord, it’s such a good letter. It’s inspired!” It was inspired too, but by the devil, and I finally pressed “yes” and you know I felt relief by doing it. Some of us have some files that need deleting. Amen? Some of it is the offenses that others have committed against us. Some of it is your own files, the things you’ve done wrong. You need to delete them “forgetting those things that are behind” you need to move on.

Lot’s wife needed to forget. She kept looking back and that’s why she was lost. Hebrews 8:12, “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness,” God says, “and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” Aren’t you glad that God can have a bad memory? He casts our sins into the depths of the seas and he forgets them. He wants us to do the same with others. Sometimes we have to let go of the past in order to enjoy the present and be able to see the future. Luke 9:62, Jesus said, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom.” There is a time to forget those things that are behind and to move on. Some people all they can remember is their failures and they never attempt trying again. Forget what’s behind and move on.

I’ve got to be careful how much I say sometimes. I have counseled with people, a woman for instance whose husband left her for someone else and her and the kids and just every time they meet this person they keep rehearsing how they were betrayed and you know it’s pitiful. And they even sometimes cling to hopes that they’ll come to their senses and come back. And you know I’ve had to say, “You need to forget about it and move on. Get on with your life” because the devil he’s a master at getting us, keeping us distracted with things that don’t help. The Bible says God is going to create a new heaven and a new earth and “the former will not be remembered” or come into mind. What does that mean? Is there a day coming where all the painful memories are going to be dealt with? Isn’t that good news? Now does that mean we’re going to get to heaven and forget that Jesus died for our sins? He’ll forever have the scars in his hands. But the things that grieve you right now.

I know that if you’re like I am, you have moments where I go, “Oh, I can’t believe I did that or said that, and what was I thinking?” and it just grieves you when you’re thinking about it and God says, “Forget it.” And He can give you grace to help you do that. Finally, love remembers. Love remembers. Any of you ever forget how many children you have? Usually you remember that. The Bible tells us, Isaiah 49:15, “Can a woman forget her nursing child, and not have compassion on the son of her womb?” Could you imagine that for a minute? A lady pushing around a stroller and you want to go look at the baby and you look inside and there’s no baby. And you say, “Oh, I thought you had a baby.” And she says, “Well, I think I had a baby. If I did, I can’t remember where I put it.”

You would think she’s either deranged, right? What mother could forget her nursing baby, but you know it happens. The Lord says, “They may forget, but I will not forget you. Would you forget something you died for? The Lord says, “Look, I’ve inscribed you on the palms of my hands. I can’t forget you because I don’t have a string around my finger.” It’s not just a scarlet cord hanging in Rahab’s window. He’s got scars in his hands. Any of you have a major scar? Don’t show me your hands. Do you forget why you got it? Can you forget how it got there? I can tell you a story behind every major scar on my body and I’m getting more all the time. I remember the events. Do you think Jesus forgot his crucifixion? Will he forget you? Can a mother forget her child?

You know yesterday, I don’t know if I should tell you all these stories. We were home and Karen said, “I’m going to pick up Stephen.” I said, “He’s not here?” She said, “He’s been at Grandma’s for five hours!” I thought, “Oh, it did seem a little quiet.” She said, “You didn’t notice?” You know they’re out of school now and I was embarrassed to say, “No,” I didn’t know until she mentioned it. But I would have eventually figured it out. But you think, “That poor kid’s going to be insecure the rest of the day.” How could you forget? How could you not notice something like that? But God says he won’t forget us. He loves us. God is love. You know a beautiful story. Any of you remember the era when Jack Benny was alive? A famous entertainer, comedian, he was a very nice man, played the violin. But he was, he had a reputation for being extremely frugality and that was sort of his motif of comedy, but when he died, the day after he died, the florist delivered a single rose to his wife, Mary. The next day the florist showed up at the door and had another rose. The next day the florist showed up at the door and had another rose.

She thought this was peculiar and so she called the florist and she said, “What’s going on? There must be some mistake because I keep getting a rose from your shop.” And the florist had to tell her, “You know whenever Mr. Benny came in and he bought you any roses he used to say, ‘When I’m gone, I’m going to have you send a perfect single stem rose to Mary every single day.’ And we used to think he was teasing,” the florist said. “But he actually made a provision in his will and supplied the funds. We are supposed to send you a rose every day of your life as long as you live.” Now that’s love, isn’t it? To think of somebody like that. Has Jesus done less for us than a man might do for his bride? He loves us more than a mother loves her child.

He’s not going to forget us, but how can we forget God? But we do! Over and over in the Bible he says, “Lest you forget me.” “Lest you forget the Lord.” It hurts him when we forget him. We need to ask God to help us not be so distracted by the devil and to remember the Lord, remember to pray, remember his word, remember his will. We need ask God to help us remember, amen? To put it in our minds and on our hands it must first be in our hearts. If that’s your desire please turn in your hymnals to our closing hymn and I believe I told you that was 317, “King of My Life, I Crown Thee” now I like the part “lest I forget.” Let’s stand together as we sing.

King of my life I crown thee now-- thine shall the glory be; Lest I forget Thy thorn-crowned brow, lead me to Calvary. Lest I forget Gethsemane, Lest I forget Thine agony, Lest I forget Thy love for me, Lead me to Calvary.

One of my challenges is to do whatever I can do for you to keep church from becoming mundane, a habit. How often have we sung songs without even thinking of the words because it’s just mechanical? The cross is a memorial. That’s why Paul said, “I am determined to preach nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” It’s at the cross we see how much God loves us and that should help us remember him. Amen? As we sing verse three, I’d like to ask an appeal. There may be some of you here who realize that you’re forgetting about God. Maybe you’re neglecting him and you want to say, “Lord, help me to keep you in the middle of my mind and the middle of my heart and you want special prayer for that purpose come, as we sing verse three together.

Let me like Mary, through the gloom, Come with a gift to Thee;

Show to me now the empty tomb- Lead me to Calvary. Lest I forget Gethsemane, Lest I

forget Thine agony, Lest I forget Thy love for me, Lead me to Calvary.

Indulge me on the last verse. I love this song. Sometimes we sing mechanically. We figure our voices are going to get drowned out by people around us who might sing better. Any of you ever think that way? I want you to sing verse four. I want you to think about the words and I want you to sing it like you’re doing a solo for God. I want the piano, not acapela. I want the piano. What if each one of us sings our very best? Sing this like a prayer, okay? I wonder what that’ll sound like.

May I be willing, Lord, to bear daily my cross for thee; Even Thy cup of grief to share-- Thou hast borne all for me. Lest I forget Gethsemane, Lest I forget Thine agony, Lest I forget Thy love for me, Lead me to Calvary.

Amen. Did you hear a difference? I heard a difference. We ought to sing like that every time. Amen? Let’s pray together.

Father in Heaven, Lord, I pray as we leave this place we’ll not forget this simple truth that we’re inclined to forget about you. Please help us, Lord, to be delivered from this natural bent to be so easily distracted by the enemy. Help us to keep Jesus in our hearts so that we know that he’s always with us wherever we go. Lord, forgive us for the many times we forget your blessings. We forget about your word, your law. We forget your very person and presence. And help us to do all we can to remember. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

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