Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Selective Memory

“Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.” –Psalm 103:2
“…but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind…) - Philippians 3:13

You who like me have known the sorrow of losing a loved one long before he or she actually passes away from the complications of Alzheimer’s, also know that some things from the past remain clear as crystal. Their memory somehow salvages some things while discarding others. And they evidently have no control over which is which. I would suggest, however, that those of us who still retain control of our powers of memory should purposely practice selective memory. By that, I mean, choosing what we will and won’t remember.

Comparing the two opening texts, it’s obvious some things need to be remembered, and some things need to be forgotten. And sadly, often as not, we get the two mixed up. I agree with Oliver Wendell Holmes, who said, “Memory is a crazy witch; she treasures bits of rags and straw, and throws her jewels out the window.” Of all things, as the text says, we have to be reminded to not forget all God’s benefits. We get lax, shortsighted, and forget that we’ve been cleansed from those past sins that cry out for recognition (2 Pet. 1:9). And we forget when God chastens or rebukes us, it’s His way of saying, “You’re my child, and I’m your Father” (Heb. 12:5). Sometimes our memories just need a good refreshing.

But sometimes they need a good cleaning out.

For instance, the sooner we throw away the memory of past injustices, the sooner we’ll lift a heavy burden from our souls that hangs like an ominous cloud over our minds. Dredging them up from our past only aggravates past hurts. Precious memories are easily squelched by stronger, deeper hurts. Remember this: If we truly believe God is in control, nothing can touch us unless He permits it; and it would never even enter His mind to do us harm. One of my favorite verses says so: “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end” (Jer. 29:11). So just forget all those past hurts. They’re just a small part of your story.

Then, I alluded in my second paragraph to the fact that when the devil decides to bring up past sins, he always neglects to tell the whole story. They’re forgotten, cleansed, purged, gone, kaput! If we’ve confessed, repented, and forsaken them, they’re dead and buried; and in their place grow the lilies of Grace. There should be no room in our storehouse of memories for past sins.

One last thing, and turning the corner here a bit, we should forget past triumphs, achievements, and glory. I have an idea that’s what Paul is speaking of in Philippians 3:13, especially when it’s sandwiched between verses twelve and fourteen. “I haven’t yet arrived,” he says in verse twelve, “And I’m not looking back at past glory; I’m pressing on to the next goal,” he affirms in verse fourteen. The past may have been wonderful, fruitful, and flourishing with good work, but it’s not good enough to sit on for the rest of our lives. We don’t have to top it; in fact, we don’t even have to match it. We simply have to move on to the next thing God has given us to do. But as long as we’re measuring ourselves with the yardstick of yesterday, we’ll always fall short of the will of God today.

A selective memory: it’s a good thing, I say. I think our prayer should be that of the old saint of God, who prayed: “Lord, help us to remember what we ought not to forget, and to forget what we ought not to remember.” Amen!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Eight Little Words

"Be still, and know that I am God..."  (Psl. 46:10a)

For some odd reason, when we start to lose our way, we tend to double our speed. If things are not quite right in our Christian lives, we feel it is because we are not doing something; when all the while, our frenzy may itself be the culprit. That seems to be what this little phrase in Psalm 46 is saying.

BE STILL:  This takes for granted you haven't been. The opposite of still is moving, which is not a bad thing, but was never meant to be an end in itself. Activity should have a purpose. Some people's incessant talking is just to hide the fact that they have nothing to say. They carry a bucket with such speed and precision that only a few discerning people notice there is nothing in it. Be still; then what?

AND KNOW:  Is God saying we will never know much as long as we remain in motion? Sounds like it. It's hard to learn things on the run. It’s not impossible, but it’s not advisable. Any knowledge or insight acquired in this way comes by experience, a less than perfect teacher. (It tests first and teaches later.) Instruction is the best; and as any good teacher knows, teaching a moving child is like trying to hit a moving target! Samuel told Saul in 1 Sam. 9:27, "[S]tand thou still a while, that I may show thee the word of God." If we’ll take time to stop and listen, God will take time to stop and teach; and we will know. Know what?

THAT I AM GOD:  And this—the knowledge of God—will be well worth our stopping. Daniel 11:32 tells us, the people who know their God "shall be strong…” Christians who are “strong in the Lord” (Eph. 6:10) and able to “endure hardness” (2 Tim. 2:3) are the ones who know their God. And the ones who know their God are those who are willing to “be still.”  “In quietness,” says Isaiah, “shall be your strength” (30:15).

Eight little words, but O, what truth they hold! Dear tired, hurried saint of God…be still.

“What is death but the Almighty Father saying to our talking lips, ‘Be Still’? And I for one believe that in that stillness we shall awaken to know that He is God, in such a love and power as will be heaven.” – George H. Morrison


Saturday, July 13, 2013

A Breath of Fresh Air

“For they have refreshed my spirit and yours: therefore acknowledge ye that are such.” – 1 Cor. 16:18

I’d like to do just that—acknowledge those blessed saints of God who spend their lives refreshing the spiritual lives of fellow believers. And, oh, how you and I need to be refreshed in the decaying culture in which we live! Moses, ascribing human characteristics to God in Exodus 31:17, says, He rested from his creation activities on the seventh day, “and was refreshed.” We all need it. We need the ministry of those who bring a breath of fresh air, and who make it easier for other people to breathe.

Sadly, many do just the opposite; they knock the breath out of other believers by pointing to past sins and predicting future failure. They reduce the Christian life to a virtual exercise in abstinence in all things, forgetting that it’s moderation that should be it’s main hallmark. “Let your moderation be known unto all men” ( Philip. 4:5). Their advice looks more like a dead end than a way out of the forest. And when they leave, and we finally exhale, it’s a sigh of relief.

On the other hand, the believer who has chosen to be a spiritual “refresher” brings an infusion of Holy Spirit breeze into a room and a life, reminding us that the God who forgives sin has also made provision for victory over its power (Rom. 6:14). We may never be sinless as long as we’re in these bodies, but we can (and should) sin less. As children of God, we’re less like ourselves—our true selves—when we sin. It should no more be a commonality, but an anomaly. And as far as abstinence goes, you’ll be hard pressed to find anything to put under that category except for idolatry in any form (Acts 15), fornication (1 Thess. 4:3); those things that fall under the heading of “evil” (1 Thess. 5:22); and “fleshly lusts which war against the soul” (1 Pet. 2:11).

It seemed that Paul could not say enough about the “ministers of refreshment” that God put in his life, naming Onesiphorus, in particular, in 2 Timothy chapter one. He attributed their presence in his life to the mercy of God. And I would agree. Those people in my own life who have encouraged me in the things of Lord, breathing new life and fresh hope to my flagging spirit, I count as one of God’s most precious gifts to me. They remind me of past blessings, encourage me in my service for God now at this time in my life, and cause me to take a deep breath again, knowing that one day, the air I breathe will be celestial!

For myself, nothing refreshes like the living, breathing, Word of God, and the man or woman who is saturated in its promises and principles is always refreshing to me. I want to be such a woman. I want to be a breath of fresh air to those who have found the air around them to become stale and heavy. I want to become skillful in Spirit-anointed “heart-to-heart resuscitation.”

“In a world system darkened with the smoke of the pit, how we rejoice to meet saints who are fresh with the clean air of heaven.” – Watchman Nee