Memories can be discouraging. There may be moments in our past that haunt us. Perhaps it’s traumatic experiences that come back and cripple us. Maybe it’s a recollection of a moment when you did something foolish that frustrates you. Or, maybe it’s a memory of a loved one that has left you that causes you to feel sorrow. Memories can be discouraging.
However, memories can also be encouraging and edifying. Maybe you have memories that bring joy. Maybe you have memories that instruct you in the present. Maybe you have a moment in mind right now that when you consider it, it brings a smile to your face. Memories can be discouraging, but they can also be uplifting. The Lord has a way of using everyday moments in our lives to teach us and sanctify us.
If you would allow, I would love to show you how past memories can be valuable to you in the present. I want us to look at how remembering the cross, character, and redemption of our Lord can sanctify us in the present.
Remember the Cross for Unity
In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, he commands them to remember. He says,
“remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world (Eph. 2:12).”
Paul is speaking to the Gentile Christians in this moment. However, he addresses the Jews as well and says,
“For He himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in His flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility (Eph. 2:14).”
It doesn’t take a New Testament scholar to understand that the Jews and Gentiles were at odds with one another. The Jews were recipients of the promises of God and the Gentiles were without hope, alienated, and without God. However, through the cross of Christ He has abolished that wall of hostility, therefore creating unity among the two.
In Paul’s letter to the Romans, he states that both Jews and Gentiles are both under sin, neither are righteous and both deserve condemnation and wrath, for both have sinned against a Holy God and rejected His rule in their life. However, God has made a way for us to be made alive through Christ. “There is now neither Jew nor Greek, nor slave or free, there is no male or female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus (Gal. 3:28).”
All that have been saved by grace through faith in Christ have been made alive in Him. We have received a pardon from our sins. We have been made new. There is not one that deserves grace more than another, but yet all in Christ have received grace. This doctrinal truth reveals that the cross of Christ is a remedy for disunity within the body. Disagreements are inevitable. We are a redeemed people, but that doesn’t mean that we are perfect. That day hasn’t come. We will have strife with one another. We will hurt others and will be hurt by others.
How can we get past that? By remembering that we were once dead in our sins, transgressors of God’s law, deserving of His wrath, yet He choose to redeem us. We must live patiently with others realizing that God was/is patient with us. He is forgiving. When we are hurt by others, we need to remind ourselves that no amount of harm done to us will ever compare to our sin’s destruction of our relationship with God.
The cross of Christ is an amazing remedy for division and hostility within the body of Christ. May our remembrance of what has been done for us through the cross destroy any hostility and bitterness we harbor in our hearts against others. May we be quick to forgive because we have been forgiven. May we be patient towards others because we have been on the receiving end of the long-suffering of God. May we be quick to love others because God loved us while we were yet sinners. May we remember the cross for unity’s sake in the body.
Remember God’s Character for faith
Jeremiah suffered as much as any prophet in the Old Testament. He is often referred to as the “weeping prophet.” In fact, He wrote an entire book in the Old Testament called Lamentations. It’s in this book that Jeremiah looks around at his present circumstances and the situation of his people and cries out to the Lord. He is suffering and full of sorrow.
In chapter 3 of Lamentations, we read into the heart of Jeremiah. He says,
“I am the man who has seen affliction under the rod of His wrath; he has driven and brought me into darkness without any light; surely against me he turns his hand again and again the whole day long (Lam. 3:1-3).”
He is suffering greatly. The people of Israel are suffering greatly. Yet, later in the same chapter we read,
“Remember my affliction and my wanderings, the wormwood and the gall! My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me. But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, says my soul, therefore I will hope in Him (Lam. 3:19-24).”
Did you catch that? Jeremiah is suffering greatly, yet he remembers the faithfulness and love of the Lord. It’s in his present suffering that he remembers the character of his God. It is in this remembering that Jeremiah is filled with hope. God has provided for His people in the past, and He will continue to do so.
I recently preached a sermon on Mark’s account of Jesus feeding the 5,000. You probably know the story. In this story we see that a large group of people are assembled before the Lord and His disciples. Jesus commands His disciples to feed the people. They respond like we often do in times of doubt. Essentially, they say, “Jesus, we don’t have enough.” It’s funny to me because these are the same disciples that have been walking with Jesus and have observed His mighty works. They saw Him calm the storm. they witnessed Him raise Jairus’ daughter. They observed Him heal a leper and many other mighty acts. Yet, they doubted.
How long were they going to live without remembering whose presence they were in? Had they already forgotten what their teacher was capable of? The Lord has provided continuously before them. Are you living like the disciples this morning? Are you living in doubt and with distrust? Have you already forgotten how Jesus has repeatedly provided for you? He has provided for your greatest need through His gospel. He will not forsake His people. He is a faithful God. He is able to provide for our needs. May we trust in Him today as we remember His character.
One way that we can overcome this doubt is by making a list of all the ways that God has provided for us in the past and present, primarily through salvation. Deuteronomy 8:10-18 is a great passage to look to for encouragement. May we, as Psalm 119 states, remember your name in the night, O Lord (v.55).
Remember Redemption for Steadfastness
In this life we will have trouble. That is a promise from Jesus. We will struggle, we will be tempted to despair and give up. However, we have been redeemed. We have been saved by the blood of Christ. As Peter reminds us,
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people. Once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy (1 Pet. 2:9-10).”
We have been promised to be heirs with Jesus. We have been given an inheritance that is “imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in Heaven for you (1 Pet. 1:4).”
It is this beautiful truth that is the anchor of our souls in the darkest of nights. We know that because we have been redeemed, we share in the glorious inheritance of the saints, and share in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We will one day enter glory and enjoy fellowship with our God. What a marvelous hope that is for our weary souls! May this truth anchor us in the moments of life’s afflictions and tribulations. May this truth encourage us that our labor’s here on earth are not in vain. May this truth bring hope to our hearts and minds.
These truths are beautiful reminders, especially in today’s climate. We are faced with doubt, worry, and stress. Yet, we serve a God that is steadfast in character. He is sovereign. He is loving. He is compassionate. He is merciful and gracious. He is a great God. May these truths help to humble us and secure us in the midst of a stormy sea. May we learn to think like Charles Spurgeon, who once said, “I have learned to kiss the wave that throws me against the rock of ages.”
Soli Deo Gloria,
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