A Purpose in Remembrance

As I sit and ponder the various thoughts that flood my mind, I wonder how many of us are good at remembering things.  Do you remember the good times?  How about the bad times?  Do you remember your wedding day or the day you met your spouse?  Did you just remember the time your son or daughter scored that goal or hit that home run?  What is it that you remembered?  How many years have passed since that memory?  Did Facebook give you a reminder of a memory triggering an emotional reaction?

No matter how you seem to remember things, I believe our memories are a gift from God.  They are the tool in which He uses to remind us of His goodness, His kindness and His love for us.  It also reminds us of His sovereignty, His power and His sacrifice.  Our memories can remind us of where we came from, what molded us into who we are today.  However, if our memories go out of control, they can haunt us, trap us and even enslave us, paralyzing us into action and causing us pain and suffering.

God created memories.  Throughout Scripture, we read of God telling his people to remember through feasts, festivals and sacrifices.  Time and time again, we read about “Remember the Sabbath” in Exodus 20 and “Remember Lot’s wife”, in Luke 17.  Time and time again, we are to remember who God is and what He has done, remember where we came from and remember our purpose and calling in this life.

That is why we place so much emphasis on remembering.  The pictures we hang on our walls remind us of times of joy.  Videos remind us of times past and inflict various emotions.  We mourn for those who suffer from memory loss.  We feel for those who have dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.  At funerals we remember the good times with our past loved ones.  At birthday celebrations we remember the joy of childbirth.  We go out of way to ensure that we never forget.

In my last post, I mentioned that Colossians is a book of remembrance.  Contained within its pages are calls to remember where we came from, Who saved us, what our calling is and who is within our family.  During my study, I was reminded of another piece of Scripture that is chock full of memories, Exodus 20.

Most of us know that Exodus 20 contains the 10 Commandments.  The do’s and don’ts of Jew and Christian alike.  However, beyond the do’s and don’ts that we have all been taught, is the complexity of explaining a purpose in remembrance.  These do not simply bark orders to follow, but a calling to remember one thing, “Remember Who.”

Exodus 20 starts off like this…

“Then God spoke all these words, saying,”

First, God wants us to remember, it is He Who is speaking.  He is the one and only true God, the Creator of Heaven and Earth that is talking with them.  He is the “I AM” who is telling them about these commands.  It is not Moses or Aaron.  He is God.

In verse 2 we then read:

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.”

Second, we are to remember Who saved us.  He is the Lord your God, not the Lord their God.  God is our God.  He is our Creator.  He is our Savior.  He is and always will be the “Lord your God”.  So why is this so important?

He reminds Israel what He did for them, “…who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.”  In Israel’s minds, it was Moses who brought them out of Egypt.  They grimaced and groaned to Moses and Aaron about how good they had it in Egypt.  However, what they forgot about was the harsh slavery, the horrific oppression they were under and their crying out to God for freedom.  They remembered the food but forgot Who provided for them.

Isn’t that just like us?  Don’t we remember the wrong things?  We all have a tendency to remember the circumstance rather than the Creator.  We remember what we think is good and forget the good that God has done for us.  We forget that it was God who saved us from our slavery to sin.  We forget that it was God who sent His Son to die for us, even though we didn’t deserve it.  We forget that God promised us that Christ will return and save us from this dying and sinful world.  Simply put, we don’t remember the right things.  When our memories focus on things, other than God Himself, we fall into sin.  We fall into a thought process of pride and selfishness which causes us to reject God and His purpose for us.

Lastly, God’s expectation of this reality is our reaction to remembering Who He is.  Let me clarify this a bit.  Here is how I like to read the rest of this passage….

Vs 3 – As you remember Who saved you, you shall not have any other gods before Me.

Vs 4 – As you remember that I saved you from slavery, you shall not make for yourself any likeness of anything that will replace Me.

Vs 7 – As you remember that I protected you from the plagues of Egypt, you shall not take My name in vain.

Vs 8 – As you remember that I rested on the 7th day, so shall you.

Vs 12 – As you remember that I am your Father, honor your father and mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land that I am giving to you.

Vs 13 – As you remember that I created you, therefore, do not murder.

Vs 14 – As you remember that I allowed Israel to increase in Egypt, you shall not commit adultery.

Vs 15 – As you remember that I provided for you in Egypt, you shall not steal.

Vs 16 – As you remember that Moses was a witness to your cry in Egypt and I heard you and freed you, you shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

Vs 17 – As you remember that I give you what you need and desire, you shall not covet any of your neighbor’s belongings or wife.

We have a purpose in remembering.  Our ability to remember should focus us on the purpose that God has for us.  In all circumstances we need to remember Who freed us from the bondage of sin, who freed us from the hand of slavery and in remembering this, our actions should match our memories.

If our memories lead us to strife, anguish and anxiety, then our memories do not have the right focus.  Instead of saying, “Oh I remember the pain…”, say, “I remember how God sustained me through the pain….”  If our focus is on remembering the circumstance then our reaction is strife, anger and anxiety.  If our focus is on remembering who God is and what He has done for us, then our reaction will be to worship and glorify Him.

There is a purpose in our remembering.  Remembering should lead us to worship.  Remembering should lead us to a desire to learn more about Him.  Remembering should bring us to the point where we bow down, cry out to Him and ask Him what His purposes for our lives are.  Remembering is our way of refocusing on the One who saved us and freed us from the bondage of sin.

How are you remembering the Lord today?  What did He do to sustain you, lead you or save you from your past?  If you can’t think of a time where God saved you, then re-evaluate your life and ask God to show Himself to you.  He has freed you through Jesus Christ.  You are free because He made you free.

May God remind you of how He is working in your life and share that with someone who may be struggling.  God bless and encourage someone today.

A Call to Remember

An old wise man once told me, “In life never forget where you came from or where you have been.  One day your memory will not be the same.  Before you know it, it’ll be the second thing to go.”  I asked, “So what was the first thing to go?   His response was, “Funny, I don’t remember.”

Although this was a funny story there is some truth to it.  In life, there will come a day where our memories of places, people and possessions will fade into the darkeness of time.  Some of us may even have the unfortunate experience of dimensia or alzheimers disease shredding our minds into a mixed soup of chaos.  However, no matter what this life may bring, no matter how good or bad you may have it, there is one area we all need to adhere to.  That is a call to remember.

In Scripture, God calls His people to remember things.  In Exodus 20, God says to remember that He is the God who brought Israel out of Egypt and into the Promised Land.  In Leviticus and  Deuteronomy, God places festivals, sacrifices and traditions in order for His people to remember where they came from, what their history is and what their future holds.  For Israel, it was and still is a command to remember.

For the Church, we also have a call to rememberance.  On the night that Jesus was betrayed, He broke bread and poured wine and told the disciples, “Do this in rememberance of Me.”  This is not simply a tradition filled with solemness and gratitude, but rather a tool from the Almighty to us for the sole purpose of remembering what Christ did for us on the cross.  It is a time for His church to remember that Jesus gave His life for us, so that we can have a relationship with God the Father for all eternity.

Currently, I am working on sermon series called, “Do you remember?”  It is based on Paul’s letter to Colossae where Paul reminds them of these four things:

1.  Remember where you came from

2.  Remember who rescued you.

3.  Remember who you are becoming

4.  Remember who your family is

Throughout this letter, Paul reminds us about who we once were, lost in our sins, lost for eternity, dirty, filthy and blind.  Then he graciously reminds us that it was Christ who saved us from ourselves and eternal judgment. From there he explains who we are becoming and what we need to do.  Finally, he reminds us that our little congregation is part of a bigger body within the body of Christ and we have a purpose in our existence.

Isn’t it great to know that no matter how small or large your church may be, you have a purpose?  No matter where you are or what you are doing, you are a tool to bring the Gospel to find the lost sheep of Christ.  Ultimately, it is Christ who calls, it is He who finds but it is us He uses.  He created us for a purpose.  He created us to be used for His Kingdom.  He created us and loves us so much that He decided to leave glory, come down to earth, live a suffering life and die a horrible death for the sole purpose of bringing us into His eternity.  All He asks us to do is to share His story in our lives and to do that we need to remember.

I am sure there are many times we want to forget something or someone or situation.  Consider this.  What if God allowed those times to be used to mold you and shape you into the tool He needs you to be.  For me it was getting hit over the head with a hammer in the middle of the night over 20 years ago  If it wasn’t for that incident, I would have never remembered that I needed forgiveness and how to forgive others.  I wouldn’t have known the struggles of being paralyzed and the necessity of learning how to walk and write again.  If it wasn’t for that time, the man in the bed next to me wouldn’t have accepted Christ as Savior.  It was the time of struggle that caused me to remember that God is in control.

What is it that you need to remember?  How has your life shaped up until now?  If you don’t know Christ, then meet Him.  Talk with Him.  Tell Him how you feel, how angry or lost you are.  He is right there with you waiting for you to open the door of your life and invite Him in.  

If you already know Christ, then what is it that He wants you to remember?  Is there something in your life that can help someone else?  Is it possible, that your struggles, sickness and experiences were meant to be used to bring someone to the foot of the Cross of Christ?  Do you think it is possible that you are being shaped and used as a tool to enhance the Church so that a lost world can see how much God loves them?

No matter what you are feeling today, remember, this life is just the beginning.  There is a life after this one and it is waiting for you.  If you don’t know Christ it is a life of being alone and lost for eternity.  For those who know Christ, it is a life of being with the Savior who paid a price for your life.

Remember something positive about your life and thank God for it.  Then remember something that He has done in you and ask Him to use it for His Kingdom, for His Glory and for His Purpose.  If you want to know more about who Christ is please let me know.  I will be more than happy to introduce you to Him and the love that waits for you.  

God bless and encourage someone today.