Our Church Plant meets in a school and so we can’t meet on Thanksgiving Day. hence our Thanksgiving Service was this morning…
What do we remember? Why do we remember something?
Now, this will seem obvious, and it is, but there are two categories of remembrance. We tend to remember the very good times, or the very bad times. We remember the memorable – whether good or bad. We remember birthdays, anniversaries, family holidays, great events, difficult events, sad events, tragic events and those who pass away.
What is almost certain is that we tend not to remember the mundane. Do you remember what you were doing 5 days ago at 1:45pm? We do not remember much of our past week, month or year. That is because not every moment of our life becomes a memory. The word remember comes from a latin word which means to call to mind, or to re-mindful. To remember is to re-member – put pack together memories of the past. Some events of our lives are simply moments in time, we do not make a memory of every time we sit down to eat at the dinning room table. However, if one time we sat down at the dining table and the chair broke and we fell down, then a memory is formed and at some point in the future you, or more likely someone who saw this happen, will put that memory back together to remember that event.
So, we remember the memorable.
We, God’s people must cultivate the art of remembering.
We see this in our reading from Deuteronomy this morning. The key to Israel’s success is to remember. The key to the success of God’s people is the ability to remember.
Notice our reading. Israel is being prepared to enter the promised land. They have been in the desert for 40 years, miraculously preserved and they are now receiving teaching about how to live. The passage says; And you shall remember all the way which the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not.
The word for remember here means to make a memorial.
The amazing point that Deuteronomy makes is that how the Israelies remember, or make a memorial about what God HAS done for them, will show God whether they will keep his commandments in the future.
The Israelites are told that success for them in the promised land revolves around HOW THEY REMEMBER THE PAST. Because, if they have remembered the past; if they have remembered the power and majesty of God; if they have remembered the sovereignty of God which brought them out from slavery from the greatest and most powerful nation on earth at that time – the Egyptians, if they remember that then they will obey the commands of God and they will trust God for the future.
For Israel to prosper in the Promised Land requires them to remember the works and words of the Lord.
If, however, they forget these events; if they have not cultivated the art of remembrance then they will not be obedient to the Lord and they will not trust God for the future. And if they should forget the Lord and his works, well, the consequences are distasterous; And if you forget the Lord your God and go after other god’s and serve them and worship them, I solemnly warn you this day that you shall surely perish.
Which, unfortunately, is exactly what happened. Judges 2:10, speaking of the time after Joshua, Moses successor’s death, says: Moreover, that whole generation was gathered to their ancestors, and another generation grew up after them, who did not know the LORD or the work that he had done for Israel.
Remembering is the key to Israel’s future – And it’s the key to our future.
It’s the same with us today as believers in Jesus Christ.
Jesus says in the gospel reading Do not be anxious about life. Notice that it’s not a suggestion. It’s a command. He does not say there will be times you might be anxious. He says DO NOT BE ANXIOUS ABOUT LIFE. Period. So, stop being anxious. Now. Jesus commands it.
Have you been anxious today? Yesterday? This week? This month?
We have disobeyed the living God.
What makes us anxious? What drives our anxiety? The main engine of anxiety is fear. Fear of the future; fear of people; fear of an event; fear of the uncertain; fear of failure; fear of shame; fear of losing; fear of death.
But Jesus says; Do not be anxious; do not fear the future; do not fear people; do not fear any event; do not fear the uncertain; do not fear shame; do not fear failure; do not fear losing and do not fear death.
How. How are we not to fear these things. How can we not fear when fear can overwhelm us like a wave in the sea. Can we control our fear? How do we do this?
We must begin by remembering.
We begin by remembering the works of God in humanity and the words of God TO humanity. We begin by remembering the ministry and life of Jesus Christ – his death and resurrection – his acsension into heaven – his promise to return. We begin by remembering the promises of God.
We begin by remembering.
How is our memory this morning? How well do we remember? How accurate is our memory?
We must cultivate the art of remembering as Christians – as followers of Jesus Christ. And remembering the RIGHT thing.
Memories can do us good and they can do us harm. Some people can be enslaved in the their past. What happened to them years ago shapes their future, making them depressed.. And for some, the good events from the past shapes their future – they are optimistic and happy.
You see we cannot force ourselves to stop being anxious. Just as someone cannot force themselves to stop being depressed. The beginning of how to stop being anxious starts with changing how we think, and what we remember.
Listen to Romans 8:5: For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.
We need to cultivate the art of remembering THE RIGHT THING! And we begin this process through thanksgiving.
We should begin each day with praise and thanksgiving knowing that Jesus Christ died on the cross to rescue us from the dominion of sin and to take the punishment that you and I justly and rightly deserved.
This is where our thanksgiving must begin – God’s grace has been poured out upon us – thank you Lord God!
And such thanksgiving should mean we start to become happy people. Are we grateful? Are we glad each day?
If we start to do this then we will begin to grasp and understand how it is that God can say “Do not be anxious about your life.” We will begin to realize that our God is powerful – he is truly the creator and sustainer, upholder and supreme Lord and King of the entire universe. He is the one who has defeated the devil and that the final victory will soon happen. He is the one who loves and has demonstrated this love for us beyond any doubt whatsoever.
Romans 8:1-4 says: There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and to deal with sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 so that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
The question should not be “Are we anxious about anything” but HOW COULD WE EVER POSSIBLY BE ANXIOUS ABOUT ANYTHING when we remember our God.
This is the point of James chapter 1. How can we be joyful in times of trial? because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; 4 and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing.
How do we stop our faith and minds being tossed about like a wave in the sea – by knowing – by remembering – by acknowledging God’s truth and his promises. V12 says: Blessed is anyone who endures temptation. Such a one has stood the test and will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.
We must understand that in Christ our personal pasts have been dealt with. They are now in Christ. Whatever guilt, shame, dismay, pain, hurt, anger, disappointment, fear or tragedy that has happened to you is now covered by the blood of Christ – it has been forgiven and it is over with. To be in Christ is to know that OUR past can never hold us or enslave us again. As Christian’ we must not be remembering our past anymore, but we remember HIS past and that we are now in HIM.
If we are not beginning and living each day remembering what Jesus has done for us – remembering the promises of God – asking the Holy Spirit to walk with us in that remembrance then we will not live as we should live – in the hope of the future to come. The hope of the future is rooted in the remembrance of God, his word and his actions in human history.
Praise and glory, and wisdom and thanksgiving, and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!”