A man was on a semi-crowded elevator. He was tossing his keys up in the air and catching them. He kept doing this as the elevator went up for several floors. Then, the elevator stopped at a floor to pick up some passengers. The man threw his keys up in the air again.
Well, the law of averages caught up with the man. He man dropped his keys. Everybody on the elevator watched as the keys slipped between the open doors and the floor. After a long pause, they heard the keys land in the elevator shaft about 10 floors below.
Everyone felt terrible for the man. Or at least they felt bad until they heard the man say these words: "Oh no! Not again!"
Here was a man who had done the same foolish thing again. Now he had lost his keys the way he had done before. He had forgotten what happened last time. He did not learn the lessons so he was back in the same mess as before. I can really identify, can't you?
Recently, I read Psalm 106 in my devotional time with God. This psalm is a condensed history of the nation of Israel. It is a wonderful story of how God loved, guided, and provided for His chosen people. But it is also a circular history of Israel's duplicity and disasters. The reason for the cycles is in two words: "they forgot." Notice these verses:
Psalm 106:13: "But they soon forgot what he had done and did not wait for his counsel."
Psalm 106:21: "They forgot the God who saved them, who had done great things in Egypt ..."
The story of Israel is a story of cycles. God would bless them and they would follow God. But then they would forget God and fall into sin. So, God would send them calamities and captivities so that they would repent. Then, God would forgive them and bless them again. Soon Israel forget God and go back to sin. Over and over, this cycle repeated itself. In fact, this is one of the sub-themes of the Old Testament. In Hosea 13:6, God says: "When I fed them, they were satisfied; when they were satisfied, they became proud; then they forgot me."
Forgetting is the story of Israel. But it also is the story of Western Christianity and civilization. Humankind shows this same recurring pattern. God brings blessing and bounty. Then, after nations rise to wealth and power, they soon forget that it was God who blessed their nation. It was God who gave them all their material and spiritual blessings. It was God who protected them against tyranny and oppression. It was God who gave victory in wars against attackers. It was God who led them to greatness among the nations. But when forgetfulness sets it, sin becomes rampant. I fear this is happening to our nation right now.
Well, this cycle also happens in our personal lives too. How easily you and I forget God! How easily we get distracted and preoccupied! How easy is it to think that we are in charge of our fate and we don't need God! How proud, arrogant, and independent we can become when we are prosperous, employed, and safe! So sadly, God often has to send calamities, heartaches, and hardships to get us to come back to Him and to remember.
But the good news is that there are solutions for people like you and me who forget. Psalm 103:2 gives this command: "Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits ..." Psalm 105:5 tells us: "Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced..." So, God wants us to improve memories, keep track of what He has done, and not forget who He is! The key is that we have to remember these things!
Now contrast mankind's poor recall with God's incredible memory. Psalm 78:39 says: "He remembered that they were but flesh, a passing breeze that does not return." Psalm 103:14 says God "knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust." And Psalm 106:45 points out that while Israel forgot God, He "He remembered His covenant" with them. God is gracious despite our faulty memories and our sin! God remembers our frailties and remembers His promises.
But there is one thing that God does forget. In Isaiah 43:25 God says: "I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more." My sins and yours are buried in the deepest sea and God has no memory of them. Praise God!
As I boy in church, we used to sing a hymn called "Lead me to Calvary." In recent years, Dallas Holm and a few others have redone the song. The chorus of that song goes like this:
Lest I forget Gethsemane,
Lest I forget Thine agony;
Lest I forget Thy love for me,
Lead me to Calvary.
Folks, we cannot forget the tremendous sacrifice of the Lord Jesus for our redemption. We cannot forget His resurrection to give us eternal life. We cannot forget His grace, mercy, and love for us. We cannot forget the benefits of living the new life. We cannot forget the heavenly and eternal rewards God promises. We cannot forget the components of a Christian life and heart. We cannot forget that "we will reap if we faint not." And we cannot forget our commitments to live a holy life!
We all make mistakes and have mishaps. But to make the same mistake time after time without learning the lesson is what Proverbs calls "folly" or "foolishness."
So today, you might consider tying a string around your finger to remind you to give God your heart. Remember the rudiments of a fully-devoted relationship with Christ. Stay in the Word every day! Worship the Lord faithfully! Have a daily time of prayer and meditation with the Lord! Pray without ceasing! Stay focused on Him! Let His Spirit indwell your heart and life! Rehearse God's goodness, God's attributes, and God's activities in your life many times a day! Don't forget!
As there is talk about opening up our economy, our state, and our city, it is vital that we keep remembering the importance of corporate worship and taking a day for God. We can't forget like Israel did. Oh, by the way, one of the Ten Commandments is very clear. Exodus 20:8 says: "Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy."
So, see you for worship and the Word at East Hills Church!
We are online Sunday morning after 9 AM. Bring a Bible and a smile! Invite your friends, family, neighbors, and work contacts to watch.