Perhaps you have heard the old joke that there are three signs of getting old: the first is a loss of memory, and I can’t remember the other two! If this hits home, you are not alone. Humans are forgetful people. How easily we forget the important things of the past! Things which were so impressive to us at the time, things which we thought were so memorable, soon fade into the recesses of our minds, and are finally lost.
After freeing his people from Egyptian bondage, God led them through the wilderness wanderings for 40 years. Before crossing the Jordan River into the Promised Land, God paused to remind them of their tendency to forget. In a book called “second” or “repeated” law, He again ordered them to be careful, to take heed diligently, lest they should forget and the lessons of the past should depart from their heart, (Dt. 4:9). Oh, how we need that lesson ourselves!
Although there is a sense in which we should never look back, (cf. Phil. 3:13-14), in another sense we should continually be reminded of where we have been, what we have learned, and how we can benefit from reviewing our own history. It is in that spirit that God commanded his people not to forget, and we should be careful to gratefully remember our past.
Today we come to the last of 520 Sundays in the decade of the 2010’s. Today’s sermon will encourage us to conduct a healthy survey of where we have been. The purpose is to provoke a spirit of thankfulness within our hearts, and to equip us to effectively move forward to even greater heights of service to God.
What were you doing 10 years ago? The year was 2009. President George W. Bush completed his second term in January, and left the oval office for the nation’s first black president, Barack Obama. Circuit City went out of business in the midst of a global economic recession. The Pittsburg Steelers beat the Arizona Cardinals in the Super Bowl, and the Yankees won the World Series. Singer Michael Jackson died, same-sex marriage became popular, along with drones and e-cigarettes.
Here at the Central Church of Christ, in Martinsburg, WV, we have experienced a tremendous decade of growth and encouragement. Despite losses, like the death of my friend Warren Kenney half-way through the decade (Jan. 2015), the trends in attendance, contribution and overall participation have all been very positive. A record attendance of 237 was set on March 10th of this year, and the annual budget now surpasses $1/4 million. We have seen our Sunday evening attendance tick upward, and the attendance numbers for Bible Studies are at all-time highs. The Lord has blessed us mightily.
But there is a danger here at Central. It is the same danger which has ever plagued God’s people: the danger of becoming apathetic, unfocused, forgetful. We may tend to forget who is behind all of the blessings of the last 10 years, and why they have come our way. We need to constantly be reinforcing our faith in God, our determination to love and respect his word, and our insistence upon remaining faithful thereunto.
God’s warning to the Israelites echoes down through the ages: “Lest thou forget!” Lest thou forget the sermons that were preached, the Bible classes which were taught, the invitations extended, the countless acts of kindness and love which were showered upon you. Lest thou forget that good confession you made the day you were baptized: “I believe that Jesus is the Christ the son of God!” (1 Tim. 6:10). Lest we forget his church and the blood which was its dear purchase price, (Acts 20:28). Lest we forget the Scriptures we have studied and committed to memory, and “hidden in our hearts that we might not sin against God,” (Ps. 119:11). Lest we forget the joy and excitement which once was ours, when we were young Christians, ready to conquer the world for Christ. Pause, friend, and take a moment to review where you have been. “Ponder the path of thy feet,” (Prov. 4:26). Consider all that has gone before, where you have trodden, and whither thou goest, “lest thou forget!” Remember who it is that has been at your side all of this time. “He will not fail thee nor forsake thee,” (Dt. 31:6). As these closing hours of the 2010’s ebb away, take stock carefully of where you have been—lest thou forget!
-by Robert C. Veil, Jr.