A Lasting Memorial
James R. Davis
Remembering and forgetting is a fine art. An experienced husband is one who remembers his wife's birthday but forgets which one it is.
1. All of us are subject to forgetting important facts and events. We are especially subject to letting the past slip into oblivion. There is a great need for preserving memories of the past.
In January 1983, a memorial to the American men and women who died in the Vietnam War was unveiled in Washington, D.C. The name of everyone on record who was killed in the fighting was etched in that huge black stone. Many thousands of parents, wives, brothers, sisters and friends have traveled to the capital to find the name of their loved one that monument. Most are grateful that the sacrifice of their beloved relative or friend has been memorialized.
A. What one generation leaves behind, the next generation wants to recover. Someone said that Americans are a people without a past. Came to this country and left their past behind. Then they moved west. Even Americans want to recover something from the past. We look for landmarks that link us to our history.
B. It seems that we try to find a commonality from the past. People are looking for their roots. In a changing world we have a deep need to cherish lifelines to the past.
C. Both Old and New Testaments stress the importance of remembering the acts of God in the lives of people.
Jesus' followers remembered and passed on the stories of what God did in their master in order to relive and make real what they knew should never be forgotten.
God helped Noah and us remember when he placed a rainbow in the sky.
Exodus 12:14 "This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the LORD-- a lasting ordinance.
C. Jesus knew how time erases even the most vivid memories. He grew up participating in festivals that were intended to keep the past alive. The significance of the Christian movement is rooted in the past. It is important that we find our link to the past. The cross is our historical marker.
D. As we commune around the Lord's Table we celebrate a memorial. God is actually telling us that we must keep in touch with the past. If we fail to keep in touch with the past we will be as confused about where we are and where we are going as the old farmer walking down a lonely country road one day, dragging a long rope behind him. Upon being greeted by a friend coming down the road, he said, "I am so confused that I don't know whether I've found a rope or lost a mule."
The significance of the Christian movement is rooted in the past. It is important that we find our link to the past. The cross is our historical marker. The cross of Christ was the greatest memorial ever erected. God erected it on behalf of man.
Imagine a room full of pianos all tuned to
one tuning fork, which put them in tune to one another. This is how
Christ functions in our spiritual lives. He is the one person of
the past that can give stability for the present and hope for the future.
I. GREATNESS OF GOD' LOVE
Ephesians 3:16-19 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-- that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
B. Unconditional acceptance.
1. After all the prodigal son had done, the son was still an honored guest not only in his father's home, but also in his heart.
Micah 6:7 Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
2. We don't have to do anything to meet his approval. Nothing you might do will cause him to love you any less or any more. It is not based upon how well we perform.
Families who heal work at creating an atmosphere of unconditional acceptance. Each person is valued for who he is rather than merely for what he does. Parents learn to deal with misbehavior without putting down the individual. Family members affirm each other. In families where this lacking, children (and parents) may feel they are loved more when they do the right thing. They fear rejection. Criticism and judgmental attitudes prevail. God is different we don't have to do anything to meet his approval. His approval of each of us was given in the cross.
Acts 10:34-35 34 Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: 35 But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.
The Gospel Herald once published this pointed illustration:
"When little Wilhelmina was crowned queen of Holland, the happy child was too young to realize the gravity and importance of the occasion. The sights and sounds of the festivities overwhelmed her. As thousands cheered when they saw her, she wondered what it involved on her part. 'Mama,' she asked, 'does this mean that all these people belong to me?' Smiling, her mother shook her head and replied, 'No, dear child, it means you belong to all these people!'"
II. THE DIGNITY OF MAN
A. Most of us are living in a frantic search for meaning, purpose, and significance.
Psychiatrist: "Congratulations, you're cured." Patient: "Some cure! Before I came to you I was Napoleon. Now I'm just another nobody!"
Someone said of another, "He's so conceited he takes a bow when he hears thunder. "
B. Man was created with dignity.
Gen 1:26 Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground."
Gen 1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
Gen 1:28 God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground."
Mt 6:26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?
Mt 12:12 How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days.
Psa 8:3 When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained;
Psa 8:4 What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?
Psa 8:5 For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.
"...Ye are gods..."
Psa 82:1-7 1 God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods. how long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked? Selah. Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy. 4 Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked.They know not, neither will they understand; they walk on in darkness: all the foundations of the earth are out of course. I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most high. But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes.
John 10:34 Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?
John 10:35 If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken;
III. GOD IS NEAR
A. The cross reminds us that God is with us.
Mt 1:23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. (KJV)
Acts 17:24-28 God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; Neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.
B. God is with us always.
Columnist George Cantor told how as a boy he dealt with a childhood fear. He described an old narrow hall outside his bedroom that he was sure was haunted. Almost every night he was awakened by something, and he would lie there too scared to go back to sleep. His parents slept in a room down the hall, out of sight. Cantor said he used to tiptoe over to his baby brother's crib and give the little guy a couple of firm jabs, just enough to wake him up crying. Then he'd quickly hop back into bed and try to get to sleep while his parents were soothing his brother. If that didn't work, he'd lie down in the hall by his parents' room, figuring that as long as he could see them, nothing would hurt him. That child's need for some physical evidence of his parents' presence is similar to the way we at times want God to give us some physical sign to reassure us that He is near. But He wants us to trust His promises and simply believe that He is with us.
John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
John 1:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
Matthew 28:18-20 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
C. Never leaves or forsakes us.
He 13:5 "... for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee."
To notable degree we grow either better or worse in proportion to what we exalt in our lives. If we do not glorify the Lord, we will soon be centering our interests on material things. This will lead to spiritual decline, undue fear and many other problems.
Yet, if we concentrate on seeing God in everything that happens to us, our lives will be transformed.
We must see the greatness of God's love.
We must see the dignity of mankind.
We must magnify God by remembering what he has done for us in the cross.