He Won’t Remember

forgetMemorial Day is bigger than backyard barbeques. Our nation has set this day aside to remember the men and women who died in the military. The sacrifices of these brave soldiers deserve to be remembered. It causes us to think of the painful consequences of war. It inspires others towards the virtues of sacrifice.

We work very hard not to forget important things. We have calendars with important dates highlighted. Our doctors send us messages to remind us of appointments. We tie strings around our fingers and stick Post-It notes on the wall, all in an effort to remember.

One of the beautiful promises of scripture is when God promises not to remember. In Jeremiah 31:31-34, the Lord speaks of a new covenant that Jesus would make with his people. This covenant is unlike the covenant that the Israelites broke with God after Egypt. This new covenant ends with a promise: “I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” (Jeremiah 31:34)

The book of Hebrews uses this text to remind believers that they have something worth remembering: God’s promise to forget! When the prophet Micah described God’s forgiveness, he said, that God “will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.” (Micah 7:19)

When God forgives us, he forgives us totally and completely. He doesn’t put us on divine probation. He wipes the slate clean and promises never to bring it back up again. What a blessing!

How the Temple Came to Be

“Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to dove_1xGod.” (Hebrews 13:16)

There’s a fable that the old rabbis would tell about how the spot was chosen for the Temple of Israel.

Two brothers farmed one tract of land and shared one mill. Each day, the brothers worked the fields together. Each night, they would gather together whatever grain they produced and bring their portion home.

One of the brothers was single. The other was married with many children. The single brother decided that his married brother needed much more grain than he did. So secretly in the middle of the night, he snuck over to his married brother’s storehouse and gave some of his portion to his brother.

The married brother realized that his single brother had no children or anyone who could care for him in his old age, so he decided that he needed to have more in storage for the future. So each night, he secretly deposited some grain into his single brother’s storehouse.

One night, the two men each undertook their secret mission when their paths crossed halfway between the storehouses. When each realized what his brother was doing, they embraced and wept.

As the story goes, God witnessed what happened there and said, “This is a holy place—a place of reconciliation, love, and sacrifice—and this is the place where my presence will dwell.”

The story isn’t historically factual, but I believe it is theologically true. God is present when his people take care of each other and are reconciled to each other. You can make your home a “holy place” by practicing the art of forgiveness and sacrifice.

An Important Greeting

fearAlmost every time that an angel meets a human, the angel says the same thing: “Do not fear.” I assume there’s good reason for that, because almost every time an angel meets a human, the human is face down on the ground, trembling in terror.

Two truths are revealed by the angels’ greetings in scripture, and both truths must be kept in perspective.

Truth #1: God is awesome.

“Awesome” means awe-inspiring. That means awe-full. That means terrifying. He is bigger, stronger, smarter, brighter and better than you. Being in his perfect presence makes my imperfections and limitations so painfully obvious I cannot stand it. Moses was so changed by being in God’s presence that the Israelites begged him to talk to God on their behalf because they would die if exposed to his radiance (Exodus 20:18-21).

Truth #1 means that we are wise to fear him.

Yes, I know, perfect love casts out fear. But yes, we need to know that his presence is bright and full and terrifying in a way that we cannot stand to be in his presence. Scripture affirms this in Ecclesiastes 12:13 “Fear God, and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” (See also Deuteronomy 10:12)

Truth #2: We shouldn’t be afraid when the terrifying Lord of Heaven shows up, because he tells his people not to be afraid. (See Luke 1:30, Matthew 1:19-25, Luke 2:8-20 and others).

In summary, we need to be afraid. We need not to be afraid. Confused yet?

This is one of those beautiful and powerful paradoxes of scripture. “God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:29, Deuteronomy 4:24). We should never let our view of God become too tame or too small. “It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31 NASB).  If we forget that we are dealing with God, we risk minimizing him, disobeying him, and trivializing him. When Lewis imagined him in Narnia as Aslan, he was not “a tame lion.”

This fear should not be our only or overwhelming response. If fear is all we have, we don’t have a relationship with God who invites us to fear no more. We remember his mercy towards us. Paul said, “Notice therefore the kindness and harshness of God” (Romans 11:22 NET).

Don’t neglect the fear or the kindness, rather, bow before the God who says do not fear!

Personal Day of Prayer

national-day-of-prayerThursday was the National Day of Prayer. People from all sorts of backgrounds met together to pray for our nation and our communities.

Do you ever run out of things to pray for? Here are some things that might spur your prayer list:

  • For the government to rule justly and peaceably
  • For the safety of our police, paramedics, and fire fighters
  • For wisdom and patience for school teachers
  • For endurance for our missionaries overseas
  • For the farmers who grow our food
  • For single people to feel valued and loved in the Kingdom
  • For the health of the athletes who entertain us
  • For artists to use their gifts to glorify God
  • For those whose faith is weak to be strengthened
  • For boldness to speak the gospel in a world that has forgotten it
  • For the media to report truth accurately
  • For those who are grieving to find comfort
  • For the billions enslaved by the false promises of materialism
  • For our military men and women who serve on our behalf
  • For those who are researching cures for diseases to have success
  • For preachers of the gospel to study truth and communicate well
  • For the sick to find health and peace
  • For eyes to see the sins hiding in our own hearts
  • For parents to raise their children in the love of Jesus and not give up during those sleepless nights
  • For doctors and nurses to serve compassionately and wisely
  • For teens to make good decisions in a world without a moral compass
  • For our enemies to repent and find a better way
  • For those stuck in cycles of poverty to find a way out
  • For opportunities to share Jesus with people who are searching for him
  • For married people to have relationships that reflect the love of Jesus
  • For authors to write useful and beautiful books to inspire us
  • For the wicked to repent or that God will stop their harm
  • For children who are orphaned or neglected
  • For elders to shepherd the church wisely
  • To praise and thank and glorify the God who allows us to make such bold requests of him
  • For a better ability to pray, for the wisdom to ask the right things, and for the will of God to be done.

You could easily expand this list. Why not make your own, personal, day of prayer and spend some time in it?