Tomorrow is Memorial Day, a day set apart to remember those who lost their lives while serving our country. In order to honor of them, we’re going to take a moment of silence now to remember them and then a time to pray for the families left behind.
This morning, we’re going to be challenged to be living witnesses that both remember and testify to the goodness and faithfulness of God and all that He has done for us and will do for us.
The truth is that we are a very forgetful creation. Unfortunately, this is true even when it comes to us forgetting God and all that He has done for us. God knew this about us all too well. Even before the Post-It note was created, God used all sorts of creative ways to help us to remember Him.
In Deuteronomy 31, not only did Moses write down in a book the law of God, but God also gave Moses a song to teach to God’s people. God warned Joshua and Moses that when they entered into their promised land and things were going good, that they would forget Him and begin worshiping other gods. This song would stand as a witness against them since it reminded them of who God is and what He will do. In Deuteronomy 32, we find this song that God gave to Moses and after teaching Israel this song, Moses said in verse 47 about the words of this song:
They are not just idle words for you—they are your life.
In Joshua chapters 3 and 4, when Israel crossed the Jordan and first entered into their promised land, God had Joshua select 12 men (one from each tribe of Israel). Even though the Jordan was in its flood stages, as the priest’s feet who were carrying the arc of the covenant touched the water’s edge, the water piled up in a town a great distance from them and they crossed the Jordan on dry ground. When the entire nation had passed, those 12 men each picked up a rock from near the priests and set them down where they camped that night. God said that those stones were to be a memorial to Israel forever and that when their children asked them, ‘What do these stones mean?’, that they could tell them of the awesome thing that the Lord did on that day.
In Numbers 15, Israel was told for generations to come to make tassels on the corners of their garments to remind them that instead of chasing after the lusts of their hearts and eyes to chase after Him and not to forget the commands of God.
In Deuteronomy 6, God told us to impress His word on our children, to talk about it when we sit at home, when we walk along the road, when we lie down and when we get up. We tie His word as symbols on our hands and foreheads, to write them on the door frames of our homes and gates.
There are countless creative ways in which God chose to use, but the one thing that was critically important is that His people would remember Him. Interestingly enough, God’s concern was far greater that His people would forget Him when things were going well than when things became difficult. How true it still is today, though. When we hit rock bottom, even the most unbelieving person remembers God and cries out to Him for help. However, when things are going well, we have a tendency to forget our dependency on God. We forget about where we came from and what God did for us.
Let’s now look at the New Testament. We won’t be surprised to find that throughout our history, humans haven’t gotten any better at remembering and understanding who God is and what He has done…
5 When they went across the lake, the disciples forgot to take bread. 6 “Be careful,” Jesus said to them. “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”7 They discussed this among themselves and said, “It is because we didn’t bring any bread.”8 Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked, “You of little faith, why are you talking among yourselves about having no bread? 9 Do you still not understand? Don’t you remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? 10 Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? 11 How is it you don’t understand that I was not talking to you about bread? But be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” 12 Then they understood that he was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
Then we have Peter in Matthew 26. Jesus warned him that He would deny Jesus three times before the rooster crowed. It wasn’t denying even knowing Jesus that hurt Peter, it wasn’t until he heard the rooster crow that he remembered what Jesus has warned and it was then that his heart was broken.
Jesus warned His followers many times about going to Jerusalem and how He was going to be put to death, but would raise again on the third day. I would think that if someone were to tell me these words, that they would stick with me and that I would ponder them often. However, they seemed to have quickly forgotten. We find evidence of this here:
1 On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. 2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. 5 In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? 6 He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 7 ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” 8 Then they remembered his words.
13 Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 16 but they were kept from recognizing him.17 He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”They stood still, their faces downcast. 18 One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”
19 “What things?” he asked.
“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. 20 The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 21 but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. 22 In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning 23 but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. 24 Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.”
25 He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.
28 As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. 29 But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.
30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”
33 They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together 34 and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” 35 Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.
36 While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
37 They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. 38 He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? 39 Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”
40 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. 41 And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate it in their presence.
44 He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”
45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.
Just like Jesus’ followers after His resurrection, we too often are forgetful. Sometimes, we are right there with Jesus and don’t even see or understand it. Every month, we share communion together here at New Hope. We do this not as a tradition or because we have to have communion monthly, but we do it for the same reason that Jesus did it with His followers after His resurrection. We do it for the reason that Jesus said that we should do it. Jesus simply said, ‘Do this in remembrance of me.’.
This morning, I want to challenge each of us to remember what God has done for each of us. Not just what scripture reveals, but also what He has personally done in our lives. It is wise to be creative and do something that stands as a witness and a reminder of this event. Whether it be to setup a stone by your door, make a journal, take some pictures, wear a necklace, whatever it might be, it is critically important that we remember. We need to remember God and what He has done for us in all of His goodness and faithfulness.
At this time, we’re going to enter into worship, but not through corporate song as we normally do. This morning, I encourage each one present here today to ask God to help you to remember what He has done for you and then to come forward and share it. While we’re sharing, we can know for sure that God’s presence is here and that our remembering praises and honors Him. This is actually not anything knew, for we find that during a dark time when most of God’s people had deserted Him, a remnant that had remained faithful to God did just this:
Then those who feared the Lord talked with each other, and the Lord listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in God’s presence concerning those who feared the Lord and honored his name.
Let’s also together this morning write this scroll of remembrance in the very presence of God.