The older I get, the more forgetful I become. I walk into a room and can’t remember what I came for. I mix up my granddaughters’ names. I wander around the grocery store, knowing there is one more thing to get, but I can’t remember what.
Another truth: If I don’t focus on Jesus, I become forgetful of Him too.
Here’s some good news: something deep in my heart changes when I focus long and hard on Him. I remember the Lord’s help in the past, and it is in the remembering that the power lies.
I have walked with the Lord for several decades and I barely remember NOT knowing Him. I am grateful for the longevity of my relationship with Jesus, but sometimes the years cause my mind and heart to become lazy.
When I am lazy, I FORGET the slavery to myself from which He saved me. I don’t remember all the ways He has protected, guided, and corrected me through the years.
That forgetfulness is dangerous.
What Happened To My First Love?
John records these words to the church at Ephesus: But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. (Revelation 2:4 ESV) The church at Ephesus served the Lord, but somewhere along the way they stopping loving Him.
Watching my adult children go through the ardor of young love convicted me of ways I allowed my own actions toward my husband to become lazy. Without realizing it happened, somewhere along the way I started taking him for granted and no longer verbally admired him or sought ways to bless him. So many areas of life require effort that the stability of my marriage lulled me into forgetfulness.
A young lover sees only what is good. An old lover can forget to look at all, or worse, become focused on what is wrong. Marriage love doesn’t need to grow cold or become complacent. But fire won’t stay hot without effort. Fuel must be added and the flames stoked.
Our spiritual life faces the same dangers as marriage. It won’t remain on fire on its own.
Scripture warns of the danger of love growing cold. It is even a sign for the last days: And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. (Matthew 24:12 ESV)
How do we avoid this danger? It requires active, decisive effort. It won’t happen on its own. Moses warned the Israelites as they headed into the Promised Land of how important not forgetting was. We can learn bunches from what he told them.
What Moses Said
The nation of Israel stood on the border of the Promised Land, facing enemies they must conquer to possess the land. It must have been terrifying. But Moses knew there was another danger, just as potentially disastrous.
What if they won their battles, got fat in peace, and FORGOT the Lord who brought them there?
“But that is the time to be careful!
Beware that in your plenty you do not forget the LORD your God
and disobey his commands, regulations, and decrees that I am giving you today.
For when you have become full and prosperous and have built fine homes to live in,
and when your flocks and herds have become very large
and your silver and gold have multiplied along with everything else,
Do not become proud at that time and FORGET the LORD your God,
who rescued you from slavery in the land of Egypt.”
Deuteronomy 8:11-14, NLT (Emphasis added)
I must heed these same warnings:
Do not forget!
Do not become proud!
Don’t think YOU accomplished all this!
DON’T FORGET THE LORD GOD!
Pride blinds me to the truth that the only good in my life is Jesus and what He does. His grace works, provides, and accomplishes. His power multiplies. His hand rescues. When I forget this, my love grows cold and my ardor dies. I focus on myself instead of Jesus.
How do I NOT forget Jesus? There is only one way -- that is to remember.
I must remember in order to not forget.
That might seem painfully obvious, but it take effort to remain conscious. To focus my brain and heart, I’m going to use the same categories Moses spelled out in Deuteronomy to the Israelites.
Remember what Jesus saved me from:
“Do not forget that he led you through the great and terrifying wilderness with its poisonous snakes and scorpions, where it was so hot and dry.” Deuteronomy 8:15 (NLT)
Sometimes my sanitized world blinds me to its dangers. If I blindly walked an unknown path surrounded by “poisonous snakes and scorpions,” you can bet I would be looking to my Savior.
Jesus not only saved me FROM hell, He saved me FROM the power of sin that could attack and destroy me. He saved me TO the safety of life with Him. Without Jesus, I would be dead: spiritually dead.
Reality: Jesus saves me from dangers as great as vipers, and from lostness as hazardous as a “desert wilderness.”
I REMEMBER how Jesus saved me from myself.
Remember how the Lord provided
“He gave you water from the rock! He fed you with manna in the wilderness, a food unknown to your ancestors. He did this to humble you and test you for your own good.” (Deuteronomy 8:15b-16 NLT)
The abundance of American Christianity can blind me to Jesus’s provision in my life. I more in danger of having too much to eat than not enough. I always have access to water; in fact, the choices are staggering: tap, bottled, fizzy, mineral, flavored, ionized, pH balanced, spring, glacier. (I personally prefer tap -- filtered of course, because this is 2018 and NOBODY drinks straight up tap water -- or Topo Chico -- because I am Texan.)
Life provides my daily requirements so well, I forget how needy I really am.
Reality: I require the Lord’s daily provision to feed my soul and sustain my heart. Every good gift in my life is from Him.
I REMEMBER in order to remember that all is from Him.
Remember how the Lord has worked
“He did all this so you would never say to yourself, 'I have achieved this wealth with my own strength and energy.' Remember the LORD your God. He is the one who gives you power to be successful,” (Deuteronomy 8:17 NLT)
In my individualistic, I-do-it-myselfness, I am in danger of losing sight of the Lord’s work. He doesn’t just sustain me, He allows success. He GIVES success,
If I don’t work at remembering, I might think I am responsible for my accomplishments. I will only see my fingerprints and miss the Lord’s.
Reality: Every achievement is from Him and for His purposes.
I remember that every success is His.
Remember the Lord’s covenant
“...in order to fulfill the covenant he confirmed to your ancestors with an oath.” (Deuteronomy 8:17-18 NLT)
WHY does the Lord’s gives success: IN ORDER THAT -- I can be happy? I won’t have to worry? I will get my way? People will think I’m swell?
He saves, protects, and provides SO THAT I can walk in His covenant in my life. Well, that turns my self-centered attitude on its head. Everything I have, do, or achieve is not only FROM Him, it is FOR fulfilling His covenant.
Reality: everything I gift, talent, and blessing are to make much of Him, not me.
I remember so I don’t forget it’s all about Him.
Remember the Lord so I won’t follow something else
"But I assure you of this: If you ever forget the LORD your God and follow other gods, worshiping and bowing down to them, you will certainly be destroyed.” (Deuteronomy 8:19 NLT)
The most important reason I must never forget is this:
If I forget everything is for, about, and from the Lord, I will eventually FORGET HIM and that will destroy me!
I might follow whatever theory makes me the most comfortable. I could search for ways up the ladder. I might hunt down money. I could pursue pleasure, education, my heart, or my desires, whether they are the Lord’s plan or not.
All the while I would pat God on the head and throw His name into conversations when appropriate. I would still show up to church on Sunday (as long as it doesn’t mess with my theories or start too early), carry a Bible, and wear a cross. But if I don’t actively REMEMBER His appropriate place in my life, He will become like a condiment -- something nice to sprinkle on top, but not the main course.
Reality: if I forget the Lord I will run after something else.
I remember the Lord so I DON’T forget Him.
Need Help Remembering?
Remembering matters, but it’s hard. There are just so many things to think about in everyday life! I want to help us all do a better job remember our Lord- because if we forget Him, nothing else matters.
The past two years I have posted all 31 Days in January as a New Year kick-off. My previous series were:
This January I invite you to join me for a 31 Days of REMEMBERING God.
What would happen if we took the first month of the year just to remember what the Lord has already done? I’ll tell you what: The more we remember, the greater our recognition of His hand in our life.
Our love for Him will grow.
Our gratitude will multiply.
Our peace will deepen.
Our faith will blossom.
And our hope will confidently rest in Him as we REALIZE how intimately He acts in our lives.
Every day of January I will post a short devotional and prayer to focus our attention of His work, and I invite you to join me. By taking a few moments each day to concentrate on Him, you will be amazed at the joy it brings your heart.
Memories might start as a trickle, but if you keep at it, the works of Jesus will begin to flood through your mind.
You can come to the blog every day in January, or if you sign up below the post will come directly to your inbox every morning starting January 1st.
Let’s start our New Year together, by remembering everything He has done in the past.
Next Week: we will talk about EBENEZER- the story in the Bible that started this whole line of thinking for me.
Leave a comment below of a way the Lord has helped you in the past. Can’t remember anything? Just ask Him to bring something to mind!
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