Forgetting or Remembering New Years Sermon-

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Fri, 01/03/2020 - 1:00pm

“Forgetting or Remembering?” Sermon for 12/29/19 at Harbor Church

Reading from Isaiah 63:7-9
63:7 I will recount the gracious deeds of the LORD, the praiseworthy acts of the LORD, because of all that the LORD has done for us, and the great favor to the house of Israel that he has shown them according to his mercy, according to the abundance of his steadfast love.
63:8 For he said, "Surely they are my people, children who will not deal falsely"; and he became their savior
63:9 in all their distress. It was no messenger or angel but his presence that saved them; in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old.

Well, we’ve come to the end of another year. And it was A year that some of us would probably just as soon forget 2019.

In David Barry’s column in the Miami Herald, he said:

It was an extremely eventful year.

We are using “eventful” in the sense of “bad.”

It was a year so eventful that every time another asteroid whizzed past the Earth, barely avoiding a collision that would have destroyed human civilization, we were not 100 percent certain it was good news.

If you are in any doubt that 2019 held a lot of bad news, there were more mass killings in the U.S. than any previously reported year. We read about another attack last night in the NY suburbs as a Rabbi celebrated Hannukah with his friends. (Just consider the report that this year had the most mass killing in our country’s history) But it was all bad news, was it?

In CNN’s Year-end review, we read: We know that some of you want 2019 canceled, reported and blocked. You think it was awful, depressing and went on far too long. But — and hear us out here — it wasn't ALL that bad. To end things on a great note, here's a list of some of the good things that happened this year.

Pope Francis became the first pontiff to visit an Arab Gulf state

The European Commission elected its first female President 

So what can we do to forget all the bad stuff that happened (or at least learn from it) and to remember those things that we’d like to carry forward with us into the new year?

Illlustration:

I’ve always liked the story of the 3 old widows who lived together. One sister got up to go to bed, half way up the stairs she stopped and asked "was I going up or was I coming down"
One sister replied with hint of aggravation, "you were going up to bed."

A second sister headed into the kitchen to make herself a sandwich. Once in the kitchen she hollered back to her sister who was still down stairs; "what did I come in here for"

The sister responded again with a trace of irritation, "you went in to make yourself a sandwich" after which she said; "I’m so glad I am not as forgetful as the both of you are" as she knocked on the end table and said, “knock on wood”.

And then she got up and walked over to the door and said "Who is it?"

Forgetfulness - When We forget His goodness, and deny Him power in our lives
We have Built-in “Forgetters” it’s human nature.

Consider the Israelites…

They saw the 10 plagues in Egypt, and complained in the wilderness

They got to the promised land and were almost frightened off by the inhabitants

They finally conquered the land of Canaan, and then forgot about the Lord and worshipped idols

They , like we, tended to look at their present circumstances, and took their eyes off the Lord

They, like we, forgot about his history with them, and looked only at the moment of crisis

Not remembering has a history of getting God's people into spiritual trouble. Speaking of God's ancient people, "How often they rebelled against Him in the desert and grieved Him in the wasteland! Again and again they put God to the test; they vexed the Holy One of Israel." Now, listen to this. "They did not remember His power."

Spiritual forgetfulness. Spiritual amnesia. Just like God's ancient people, we tend to forget all God has done in the past, and as a result of our memory problem, we keep wandering into rebellion, mistakes, detours from the perfect will of God. It starts when we forget God's past deliverances and we strike off on our own to fix things or decide things ourselves.

We’ve all had the all too familiar experience - getting up to get something from another room, forgetting what you went in there for, going back and sitting down, and then remembering what it was, and so on. You forget and you wander.. You may say, "Well, yeah, that's a problem for you old people." Actually, memory loss is a problem for all ages. Its been called "Soul Amnesia."

Good decisions in the present, and good planning for the future are rooted in remembering God's history in past situations.

The history of your life is a series of cliffs you came to the edge of, but never went over - because of the intervention of your Lord, of times when waiting for HIS answer was worth it - and when rushing into yours wasn't, of times that looked like the end - but then God wrote one more chapter that changed everything.

Like the Red Sea, God has parted the waters over and over again, but in moments of crisis and challenge we tend to forget that. When the Jews stood at the entrance to the Promised Land and saw the giants, they forgot what God had done at the Red Sea. They retreated. They wandered in the wilderness for forty years. When Looking back on God's adventures in your life. You'll see that He has always, always come through, and He will this time - in His time. Recalling God’s goodness to us is the antidote to spiritual amnesia. Remembering the ways in which He has intervened in our lives time and time again and come through for us in the past gives us courage and confidence in the present, and the resolve to face the future as well!

Things that people tend to forget most often: From a Johns Hopkins researcher.

names 83%

where something is 60%

telephone numbers 57%

words 53%

what was said 49%

faces 42%

And if you can't remember whether you've just done something, you join 38 percent of the population.

Followers of Jesus Christ also have a problem with forgetfulness. In high-pressure situations, or when we're just going through a daily routine, we forget God. We seem to forget that we are His children. We fail to recall what He has promised to do for us. We don't remember His awesome power and His love. So we try to overcome temptation in our own strength, or to solve a difficult problem by using the wisdom of the world.

An elderly gent was invited to his old friends' home for dinner one evening.

He was impressed by the way his buddy preceded every request to his wife with endearing terms - calling her, "Honey", "My Love", "Darling", "Sweetheart", "Pumpkin", etc. The couple had been married almost 70 years, and it seemed they were still very much in love.

While the wife was off in the kitchen, the man leaned over and said to his buddy, "I think it's wonderful that, after all the years you've been married, you still call your wife those loving pet names."

The old man hung his head. "Truth be told," he said. "I forgot her name about ten years ago."

Why not develop some built-in ‘remembers’ to replace our built-in forgetters.

Remember when folks use to tie a string around their finger or put a rubber band around their wrist to remind them of something? Now we have smartphones and computers with pop-up reminders so that we don’t miss an appointment, of forget to do something at a certain time.

Maybe the end of another year is a good time to engage in a practice called

Spiritual Scrapbooking. We all know what regular scrapbooking is:

Getting out the photo album to reminisce. Isn’t it wonderful when we pull out the old photos of our family. Holidays, family vacations adventures. Graduations Our sons in football uniforms, a daughter all dressed up for her prom night. Ah, the memories.

Now, all of us have an album of memories, stored away, not just in a book, but in the memory banks in our mind.

There are good reasons to look back -- to relive those countless moments in your life you can PRAISE GOD for! The parted seas ... the conquered obstacles ... the divine interventions ... the deliverances ... the miraculous provisions ... ways in the desert ... streams where it looked like there would be nothing for your need.

Remember:

  • God’s past actions in your life
  • His ability to overcome your obstacles and crises by his power
  • To hold close His promises and commandments to you

Closing Prayer

I’ve quoted Blaise before, influential scientist and mathematician, a Christian mystic and author, When he died in 1662 his servant found a small piece of parchment sewn into his coat. At the top of the paper Pascal had drawn a cross. Underneath the cross were these words. (abbrieviated)

In the year of the Lord 1654.
Fire
God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob
Not of philosophers nor of the scholars.
Certitude. Certitude. Feeling. Joy, Peace.
God of Jesus Christ,
My God and thy God.
"Thy God shall be my God."
[grant me] Forgetfulness of the world and of everything, except God.
He is to be found only by the ways taught in the Gospel.
We keep hold of him only by the ways taught in the Gospel.
Renunciation, total and sweet.
Total submission to Jesus Christ and to my director.
Eternally in joy for a day’s exercise on earth.
I will not forget…..

 

In a Blog called”Peaceful mind peaceful life”, the author lists some things that she learned , or was reminded of in the past year:

  1. Inspiration and creativity are constantly in flux. When living a creative life, it’s easy to fall into the desire to always want to be creating. Know that inspiration comes in phases, ride the waves.
  2. Your worth isn’t measured by your productivity. Know that it’s okay to have periods where you don’t feel productive, and learn to really honor down time!
  3. Measure your relationships by quality not quantity. You don’t have to have a large inner circle to be loved, valued, or appreciated.
  4. It’s okay to let people go. Not all relationships are meant to stick with us for the entirety of our lives, it’s true what they say that relationships can be with us for a reason or a season. Know that it’s completely okay if relationships end.
  5. It’s okay if people don’t like or understand you. Don’t take criticisms personally and know that people view life through their own unique, personal lens.
  6. It’s okay to not have life completely figured out. Because none of us really do, and that’s what keeps life interesting!

So What has God done in the past year that you don’t want to forget? What truth or life lesson have you been reminded of? What do you want to remember the most? Remember, The act of spiritual remembering does not mean simply recalling information from the past, but also implies an appropriate response to that knowledge in the present. Remembering is closely linked with action. Memory is not limited to cognitive recall. [Rather,] remembering something implies acting in accordance with what is remembered. You might say that it’s taking knowledge and applying it as wisdom.

So ask yourself: What have I learned this year? About God…myself… life… others?

How will what I have learned inform the way I live my life in the coming new year?

As we leave behind another year and move into a new one, let’s remember to ask God for the boldness to hold fast to the memories of his faithfulness, His presence and His promises in our lives. Remembering in this way at these times gives us the courage to press forward and embrace lives of faith and hope no matter what circumstances or challenges the current day may bring. Let us overcome our human tendency to forget God’s goodness, and ask for the grace to remember all that God has done in our lives, that we may trust in him to lead us forward by faith each new day of the new year, amen.