Sunday, January 18, 2015

Lest We Forget

The first time we went to Washington D.C., I remember standing  for a long time viewing the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, that long wall of black marble engraved with the names of those killed in the war.  Every day, people come to the Memorial to remember their friends and loved ones, some leaving tokens of their remembrances:  flags, photos, sealed letters, pieces of clothing.  One man left a headband, dog tags, and a letter that reads, "To all of you here from Echo Company, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division... I leave you my headband which contains my sweat from the war, my dog tag, and a picture of me and Mike.  Another time.  Another place.  I'll never forget you."

            Written on one flag was this message:  "May all of you who died, all of you still missing, and all of you who returned home never be forgotten. - Connie."

            You see, it's important that we remember.  It's important that we remember what those soldiers did for us, and even more it's important that we remember what our God did for us.  As the Psalmist said, "Seek the Lord and His strength; Seek His face continually.  Remember His wonders which He has done, His marvels and the judgments uttered by His mouth...."  (Psalm 105.4-5)  He's telling us three things to remember: Remember our God, remember His works, and remember His words.

          We remember first who He is. And as we get to know Him better, it helps also to remember what He has done for us.  The best place to begin is with His deliverance.  For Israel, it was deliverance from bondage in Egypt.  In one night God brought judgment on the entire nation of Egypt.  Without exception, a firstborn died in every house in Egypt, either the firstborn of the house or the firstborn of the flock who died in the place of the firstborn of the house.  This was the redemption event of the Older Testament.  Lest they forget, God proclaimed a special holiday observed each year to commemorate this deliverance.  On that occasion, known as Passover, they tell stories of the first Passover to fulfill the instructions of Moses who told them to "remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out of there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm...."  (Deuteronomy 5.15)

            For you and me, it is the deliverance from bondage to sin that Jesus accomplished for us at the cross, which is the redemption event of the New Testament.  From the day we were born into this world, we were slaves to sin.  When Jesus died on the cross, He died in our place and thereby delivered us from that slavery.  Paul explains that "though you were slaves of sin, you...[have]...been freed from sin and enslaved to God...."  (Romans 6.17-22)  Always remember the deliverance He accomplished when He redeemed you.

            On the last day of Bible School, Friday, the 13th of June, Frances was wrapping up the session at her table.  Seven nine or ten year old boys sat around the table.  Actually only four sat in their places completing their work, while Frances was talking quietly with a fifth, telling him about Jesus.  Two other boys were chasing each other around the table.  No one paid any attention to these two.  Screaming like stereotyped wild Indians, they bumped against chairs, banged the table. Frances calmly continued her conversation with the one boy.  Before she finished, one of the "wild Indians" began to get curious about what she was doing.  Whatever she was talking about had to be important since she would not stop to settle the fracas going on around the table.  So he asked.  Frances gave him an answer  and led him to the Lord as well.  I will never forget that morning because I was that nine-year-old curious scrapper.  I will always remember my deliverance.

            We should also remember His blessings.  Moses told the Children of Israel that they should

Remember the days of old, Consider the years of all generations. Ask your father, and he will inform you, Your elders, and they will tell you....  For the Lord's portion is His people; Jacob is the allotment of His inheritance.  He found him in a desert land, And in the howling waste of a wilderness; He encircled him, He cared for him, He guarded him as the pupil of His eye....  The Lord alone guided him, And there was no foreign god with him.  (Deuteronomy 32.7-12)

The first blessing we should remember is that we are His.  The Lord's portion is His people.  In the context, God divided up the nations and took Israel for His own possession.  When Jesus died, He took us as His people.  He adopted us into His family through the birth pangs of Calvary and gave us His name.  We are children of the King.

            And this is only the beginning.  Look again at the passage in Deuteronomy.  He encircled us with His love.  He cared for us as a mother cares for her children.  Nurturing us, comforting us when we are afraid, watching over us and nursing us when we are sick, and teaching us the things we need to learn to enable us to grow.  Then He guarded us, protecting us from evil, from the threats of Satan, even from our own sinfulness at times.  Finally, He guided us with His Word and with His Spirit just as He guided the children of Israel through the wilderness.

            The Lord gave us the ordinance of the Lord's Supper symbolizing His deliverance of us and He gave us His Word and His Spirit to guard and to guide us, lest we forget....

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