Saturday, August 13, 2016

Change Agent: It's Important to Remeber

If we want to be effective agents of God’s Kingdom, we must always remember and never forget who we are, who our King is and what He has done for all who will receive Him!

The key words in that statement are “always remember” and “never forget.”

I’m not sure if it’s true or not, but I once heard that fish only have six-second memories. Which kind of makes sense if you think about it? John Doe Fisherman goes fishing. He puts a worm on his hook and drops it in the water. Beneath the surface, a school of fish instantly spots what appears to them to be lunch. Fish number one, we’ll call him Joe, promptly swims up and snags to worm (and the hook) and is instantly jerked up and out of sight! Pandemonium breaks out! The other fish go crazy with fear, “They got Joe! They got Joe!” And then, after about six seconds one of them looks up and says, “Hey look, a worm!”

Human memory is a little bit better than that—but we can forget things—even very important things—with the best of them.  God knows this full well and He’s taken steps to help us remember the things He wants us to keep in mind.

For starters, He didn’t just tell us, verbally what He wanted us to know and then expect us to remember it. He inspired people to write it down so we’d have a constant reminder of who He is, who we are and what life is all about.  If you’ve read the Old Testament stories about Israel and their journey from slavery in Egypt to their conquest in the Promised Land, you know how forgetful they could be! Over and over again God did miracles on their behalf. He sent plagues that broke the iron-will of Pharaoh so that He set them free! When Pharaoh had second thoughts about setting them free came after them with his army, God split the Red Sea and allowed the Israelites to cross to the other side on dry ground while He stood behind them as a pillar of fire holding off the Egyptians. Then when all of them were safely across, He allowed the Egyptians to rush down the path after them and He caused the waters to collapse in and crush them.

Can you imagine witnessing that? Surely you would never forget that, right? Surely you would never doubt God again, right? But by the very next page in the story, Israel is grumbling and complaining about not having enough to eat or drink, or how difficult living conditions were in the wilderness. Over and over again God came through and provided for all of Israel’s needs and very often He would tell the people to create a monument to mark the occasion so they and the generations to come would never forget what He had done for them in that place. But they still forgot.

Just before Israel entered the Promised Land, God inspired Moses to write the book of Deuteronomy. There’s not a single new command or truth about God in this book. The entire book is a giant reminder of what God had already said to them and done for them. One of the core passages in the book is called the “Shema”. This word literally means, “Listen intently, receive and obey.”

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.  Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates” (Deut. 6:4-9).

In other words, never forget who God is and what He has done for you. Talk about it all the time and plaster reminders of it everywhere! Why? Two reasons: 1) personal spiritual health, 2) mission. Every Israelite was responsible for their own life and decisions. Keeping their hearts filled with God’s Word would help keep them on track.

“I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (Ps. 119:11). 

And just like the church today, Israel was called to shine for God and to be ambassadors of His kingdom life on earth.

"I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles” (Isa. 42:6).

If they were going to be effective kingdom agents, God’s Word would need to remain front and center. This is why the New Testament, again and again, exhorts us as Christ-followers to keep our minds set on things above (Col. 3:2), renewed (Rom. 12:2) and freshly focused on things that are excellent, admirable and praiseworthy (Phil. 4:8). Like Israel, and even to a greater degree, As Christ-followers we have so many reasons to be hopeful and optimistic people. God has redeemed us and filled our lives with supernatural hope. And He commissioned us to share this hope with our corner of the world. Our mindset, how we view life, and our attitude, how we carry ourselves, are vital to the success of our mission. In the next couple blogs I want to tell you about a mindset that I believe is one of the most powerful, kingdom advancing mindsets ever. It’s called optimism.

See you on Monday (Lord willing)!

Thanks for reading!  Shine for Jesus today... & remember to share, thanks!