Forgetfulness Can Be Fatal

Have you ever noticed the up-and-down track record of the Israelites? We see them worshiping God, enjoying His abundance, with their enemies on the run in one chapter, only to see them worshiping idols, barely scraping by, with their enemies closing in on them.  

What led to the downturn from freedom and abundant blessing to slavery and scarcity? I think it’s summed up in two words: They forgot. 

Asaph captures this idea in the 78th Psalm. And if we’re honest with ourselves, Israel’s history is our history too. 

There is a peril in our forgetfulness!  

“When we have much of God’s providential mercies, it often happens that we have but little of God’s grace, and little gratitude for the bounties we have received. We are full and we forget God: satisfied with earth, we are content to do without Heaven. Rest assured it is harder to know how to be full than it is to know how to be hungry—so desperate is the tendency of human nature to pride and forgetfulness of God.” —Charles Spurgeon (emphasis added)

When our thoughts about God begin to fade, so does our gratitude to God. When our gratitude to God begins to fade, so does our reliance on Him. 

The dictionary defines some important terms:

  • Ungratefulness—not giving due return for benefits conferred
  • Unthankfulness—not repaying the blesser with thanks

I don’t think anyone consciously chooses to be ungrateful, but if we don’t choose to actively remember our blessings—and our Blesser—we will become ungrateful. So what if we began to think differently about the definition of gratitude? 

  • Forgetfulness—to cease to think of something
  • Gratitudeto continue to think of Someone (with that Someone being God!) 

When we are continually thankful—when we don’t let our gratitude fade—it keeps God’s blessings at the forefront of our minds. Gratitude—continuing to think of Someone—makes us completely God-reliant. 

Moses had a good idea to help us to continue to think of God’s blessings—

Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:7-9) 

What if you posted reminders of God’s blessings all over the place? What if you made it almost impossible to forget God? What if you were constantly thinking of your blessings? 

Join us for our series called Fading Gratitude during the month of November.

Saturday In The Psalms—Generations

I will utter dark sayings of old, which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, telling to the generation to come the praises of the Lord… (Psalm 78:3-4).

If George Santayana* was right about the dangers of unlearned history lessons for the general population, he identified something even more vital for those who follow God.

Asaph recounts a history of God’s people where God blessed them, the people became complacent in His blessing, until they turned from God and became subject to His wrath. The cycle, sadly, repeats again and again.

Asaph wants today’s generation to learn this lesson and to break this cycle. 

He calls on this generation to continually remind the next generation of God’s blessings for obedience, and God’s judgment for disobedience—

Make them known to their children (v. 5).

The children who would be born, that they may arise and declare them to their children (v. 6)

For today’s parents this means…
No complacency. 
No assumptions. 
No letting kids “figure it out on their own.” 
Constant diligence.
Constant communication.

May this generation speak words of life to the generation to come!

* George Santayana said, “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” And he also noted, “A child educated only in school is an uneducated child.”

 

Last Full Measure Of Devotion

“But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” —Abraham Lincoln 

Thursdays With Oswald—The Right Ingredients For Spiritual Growth

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

The Right Ingredients For Spiritual Growth 

     God engineers the circumstances that are best fitted for the development of the life of His Son in us. … 

     We hear it asked, “What is the good of all this study and reading of the Bible? We get no ‘change’ out of it.” Most of us want something to show for what we do. We are not interested in God’s life in us, but only in our life in God. We are not after the development of the unconscious life of the Son of God in us, but after the “small change” which enables us to say, “I did this and that.” The life of the Son of God grows feeble in a life of that order.

     Every mind has two stories, the conscious and the unconscious. Most of what we hear passes out of our conscious mind into our unconscious mind and we think we have forgotten it, but we have not, we never forget anything; we cannot always recall it when we want to, but that is a different matter. We forget nothing; it is there, although not in the conscious mind, and when certain circumstances arise, suddenly the thing we thought we had forgotten is there to our amazement right enough. 

     This is exactly what Jesus said the Holy Ghost would do, “He shall…bring all things to your remembrance whatsoever I have said unto you” [John 14:26]. The Holy Spirit is forming the unconscious mind all the time, and as we “mop up” His teaching—simply take it in, not try to estimate it as we would a mathematical study—we shall find God is putting in the right soil for His life to grow in.

From The Psychology Of Redemption

God knows the soil, and the circumstances that will best make His life grow in us. Will I let Him have His way?

The best “fertilizer” for this growth is the Holy Spirit bringing out the Word of God in the circumstances in which God places us. Notice Jesus said the Spirit would remind us the Word. Which means it is my responsibility to put the Word into my mind as regularly as I can. Am I daily in His Word?

Thursdays With Oswald—Standing In A Crisis

Oswald ChambersThis is a periodic series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

Standing In A Crisis

     If, when no one is watching us, we are building ourselves up in the Word of God, then, when a crisis comes, we shall stand; but if we are not building on the Word of God, when a crisis comes we shall go down, no matter what our wills are like. …

     We may be able to give a testimony as to what God has done for us, but does the life we live evidence that we are not listening now, but living only in the memory of what we once heard? We have to keep our ears trained to detect God’s voice, to be continually renewed in the spirit of our mind. If when a crisis comes we instinctively turn to God, we know that the habit of harkening has been formed. … We have to learn to hearken to Jesus in everything, to get into the habit of finding out what He says. … The Holy Spirit will bring back to our remembrance a certain word of our Lord’s and apply it to the particular circumstance we are in, the point is—are we going to obey it?

From Our Brilliant Heritage

Standing in a crisis involves two things: (1) Reading the Word of God regularly, and (2) Obeying the Word of God every time the Holy Spirit illuminates it to our heart and mind. It’s not a matter of if a crisis will come in your life, but when. Will you be ready?

Links & Quotes

link quote

“The test for apostles and teachers is not that they talk wonderful stuff, not that they are able to expound God’s Word, but that they edify the saints (Ephesians 4:12).” —Oswald Chambers

“Does your self-esteem need attention? You need only pause at the base of the Cross and be reminded of this: The Maker of the stars would rather die for you than live without you.” —Max Lucado

“Sometimes the enormity of war overwhelms the truth that all great struggles are just the sum of individual stories. Each is more than just the story of one soldier’s service and sacrifice. Their service ripples across their families, friends and their communities. Memorial Day reminds us it is the noble sacrifice of many that makes us who we are.” —James Carafano

“How can we expect to foster a pro-life culture if we hide our beliefs in the shadows? Abortion clinics have flourished by boldly and unapologetically declaring their stance. As a result clinics like Planned Parenthood have become a mainstream part of our culture; being invited into our government’s budget, school systems and communities. Pro-life options have been bullied into a corner where their life affirming options are patronized under a label of intolerance.” I love this: a pro-life pregnancy center is going to open in Georgia just 10 feet away from an abortion clinic.

Here’s another reason I love Cedar Springs: our City has adopted an family escaping war in Africa.

But Now

But nowRemembering our past is so important. Forgetting where we’ve come from can make us insensitive to the feelings of others, it can make us falsely proud of what we assume we’ve accomplished for ourselves, and it can make us fearful that God cannot handle what’s coming next.

So God want us to remember two things: what we were, and what we are. In Ephesians the verb tense Paul uses literally says, “Keep on calling this to mind; keep on keeping it fresh in your thoughts” (Ephesians 2:11 & 12).

Keep on remembering what you WERE:

  • separate from Christ
  • excluded from citizenship
  • foreigners to the covenants of the promise
  • without hope
  • without God in the world (v. 12)

And then come two amazing words―BUT NOW (v. 13) keep on remember what you ARE:

  • brought near through the blood of Christ (v. 13)
  • able to access to the Father (v. 18)
  • no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people (v. 19)
  • members of God’s household (v. 19)
  • a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit (v. 22)

Constantly calling this to mind should produce three attitudes―

  1. Thankful to God for His grace gifts to me.
  2. Graceful to others who are separated from God now like I used to be.
  3. Hopeful of the help Christ can bring through me to others.

We are continuing our study of the Book of Ephesians this coming Sunday. Please join us!

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