ďForget Not All His BenefitsĒ††††††††††††† Deuteronomy 8:1-20†††††††††††† April 25, 2010
SI:† Deuteronomy has been called the Romans of the Old Testament.
Thatís because itís a book about Godís grace,
†† and the life of faith and obedience we give to God in response to his grace.
The Israelites are standing on the bank of the Jordan River,
†† about to cross over and take possession of the Promised Land.
Moses has told them all that the Lord has done for them,
†† and how he wants them to live for him in their new home.
In this passage, Moses stresses the importance of remembering
†† for the life of faith.
INTRO:† One day, a few years into our marriage, I came home for lunch.
Allison greeted me and asked me how my day was going.†
†† I said it was fine.† A good day.† She said she had some lunch ready for us.
†† So I sat down at the table.† And I immediately noticed something unusual.
There were little pink napkins at each place.†
†† I said, What are these?† And I picked one up and looked at it.
†† There was something printed on the napkin with gold ink.
It said:† Andrew & Allison, June 25, 1988.†
†† And then I remembered these napkins.† They were from our wedding reception.
†† Guess what day it was? †Guess what I had forgotten?
Well, Allison was quite smug about that.† She was one up on me.
But about a year later, I was vindicated.† It was June 2.† My birthday.
†† And I could tell when we got up that morning that Allison had forgotten.
†† I was very careful not to say anything that might tip her off.
And as the hours passed I started to entertain this revenge fantasy that she would
†† completely forget.† And then days later, I would remind her in a humiliating way.
But about 5:00 that day, she suddenly remembered.†
†† Allison disputes that time and says it was much earlieróbut it wasnít.
This chapter of Deuteronomy is about remembering.
Moses warns the people of God how easy it is to forget the Lord, and all his great †
†† kindnesses. †He urges them to remember the Lord and all he has done.
This generation of Israelites had lots to remember.
†† They had just finished living 40 long, hard years in the wilderness.
The reason for those hard years was because their parents had refused to trust
†† Godís promise to give them the land of Canaan.† Even though they had
†† experienced a miraculous deliverance from slavery in Egypt,
†† and the Ten Plagues, and the death of the firstborn, and Passover, and the parting
†† of the Red Sea, they still refused to trust God to give them the land.
So this generation had that to remember.†
†† All the stories their parents had told them about Godís deliverance from Egypt,
†† and their parentsí failure of faith.†
They also had to remember how often they had tested the Lord.
†† Many times they themselves, this second generation, had complained, rebelled.
But in spite of that, the Lord had patiently and generously met their needs.
†† He had taken care of them all those hard years in the desert.
The manna, the quail, the water from the rock, deliverance from poisonous snakes,
†† and from diseases, victory over superior armies.† Story after story of Godís grace.
All of his promises had come true.† Not one had fallen to the ground.
†† And after all of that, here they were, poised on the eastern bank of the Jordan,
†† about to cross over and possess the Promised Land.
You would think that their family history and personal experiences and the Lordís
†† dealings with them would be so impressed on their hearts,
†† that forgetting would be impossible.
But Moses knew their hearts.†
†† He knew that when they entered the Promised Land,
†† and when they settled down into their new homes on their new farms,
†† and when they began enjoying their new wealth and prosperity,
†† that it would be entirely natural for them to forget.
It would be the natural tendency of their hearts to forget all about Egypt and the
†† desert and even to forget that their present prosperity was from God.
Moses knew what the human heart is capable of.
†† How it can quickly and completely forget what God has done,
†† and even take credit for the Lordís achievements.
So Moses warns them:† Donít forget the Lord.† Donít forget all his blessings.
†† Remember him and all he has done for you.†
†† And those words are just as much for you and me as they were for the Israelites.
If you are going to live by faith
†† and be motivated by gratitude to keep Godís commandmentsó
†† then you are going to have to fight your natural tendency to forget the Lord.
And the flip side is that you have to remember.
†† You have to remember the Lord and all his benefits.
Itís not just here in Deuteronomy 8.† Itís all through the Bible.
†† Remember the Lord.† Forget not all his benefits.†
†† Itís the key to a joyful Christian life.†
Letís look at this under two points, two headings:
1.† The command to remember
2.† The temptation to forget
Credit where credit is due:† Sermon by Dr. Robert Rayburn on this passage.
MP#1† The command to remember
What exactly is the Lord telling us to do, when he commands us to remember?
Itís obviously not natural memory.†
†† Some people have good natural memories, some donít.
†† I once saw a documentary about a man who memorized 22,000 digits of pi.
†† He had a phenomenal memory.† But thatís not what this is about.
This is something deeper.† Itís a spiritual activity of the redeemed mind.
One of the most helpful illustrations is the life of John Newton.
John Newton was the Anglican minister who wrote the hymn Amazing Grace.
†† He had a lot to say about the importance of remembering in the Christian life.†
Newtonís mother was a Christian, committed to raising her son in the faith.†
†† She read him the Bible, prayed with him, helped memorize Bible verses.
†† But she died when he was just 7 years old.
Newton admits in his autobiography, that he soon forgot all of his motherís training.
†† In fact, if you read his autobiography, you will see him repeating certain phrases
†† over and over:† ďI forgot.Ē† ďI soon forgot.Ē† ďThis too I totally forgot.Ē
Then, when he was 12, he was thrown off a horse and almost killed.†
†† That made a big impression on him, but he says, ďI soon forgot.Ē
Later, when he was a sailor, he and some friends rowed out to a ship anchored in
†† the harbor.† He missed returning with them by five minutes, their boat capsized
†† and they were all drowned.† He knew he would have died because couldnít swim.
†† He was very much affected at funeral.† But, he says, ďthis also I soon forgot.Ē
Once he had a very vivid dream about the wrath of God and judgment day.
†† The dream made a powerful impression on him.† But, he says, ďI totally forgot it.Ē
Eventually he got involved in the slave trade and participated in terrible things.
And then Newton was in a storm at sea.† The ship seemed certain to sink.
But in that storm the Lord came to John Newton, and convicted him of his sins,
†† and he cried out for mercy and salvation.† And he wrote in his autobiography.
ďThat day is a day much to be remembered by me; and I have never suffered it to pass unnoticed since the year 1748.† For on that day, March 10, 1748, the Lord came from on high and delivered me out of deep waters.Ē
And years later, after Newton had become a minister, and was writing his famous
†† hymns, he had a Bible verse painted on the wall of his study.† Deut 15:15.
You shall remember you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God redeemed you.
And when he was an old man, would often say:† ďMy memory is nearly gone, but I
†† remember two things, that I am a great sinner, and that Christ is a great Savior!Ē
One more story:† Newton had a friend named William Cowper, poet, hymn writer.†
†† Cowper had such bad depression that he couldnít take care of himself.
†† So he lived with John and Mary Newton in the church manse.
During his good times, he and John would write poetry and hymns together.
†† But during the bad times, he would say that God was against him,
†† and that God certainly couldnít love him, and that he would never see heaven.
Newton would say, William.† Lord loves you.† Has great things in store for you.†
†† Heís going to wipe away all your tears.† Cowper would say, God canít love me.†
Cowper died a few years before Newton, and Newton wrote a poem imagining
†† what he would say when he met his friend in heaven and grabbed his hand:
Oh! let your memory awake!† I told you so.
I told you thus would end your heaviest woe;
I told you that your God would bring you here,
And Godís own hand wipe away your tear . . .
The first line of the poem is really the essence of Christian remembering.
†† ďOh! let your memory awake.Ē †
Itís not that we have literally forgotten Jesus, and the cross
†† and our own personal salvation and experience with the Lord.
Itís not that Moses was afraid the Israelites would literally forget the Exodus
†† and the Red Sea and God taking care of them in the desert.
But we let those things fade.† We quit thinking about them enough.
†† We donít bring the great force and truth of them to mind so that they
†† overcome our bitterness and worry and idolatry.
So we have to wake up our memories and bring the Lord and his benefits
†† deliberately to mind.† Bring to mind his dealings with you, the lessons he has
†† taught you, the blessings poured out, answered prayers,
†† his providential hand in your life.† Thatís what the command means.
There are different ways to do it.† John Newton wrote a verse on his wall.
†† Some of you have Bible verses on your refrigerator.
Thereís the old practice of keeping a journal, to record your memories,
†† and the Lordís dealings with you, the lessons he has taught you.
Of course, Bible reading is a big part of this.
But the principle means God has established to awaken our memories is weekly
†† worship on the Lordís Day.† The Lord has established a weekly rhythm for his
†† church, both in the Old Testament and the New Testament,
†† is because weíre forgetful, and we need to be reminded of the big things.
Biblical worship is a renewal of the covenant between God and his people.
†† We go through the Gospel from start to finish in our worship every week.
We set God before us with praise.† We confess our sins.†
†† We turn to Christ in his death and resurrection for forgiveness, peace with God.
†† We consecrate ourselves anew to Him with offering, prayers, attention to Word.
Every worship service is to be a remembrance of our salvation,
†† and an opportunity to recommit ourselves to the Lord as we remember him.
We will soon come to the Lordís Table.† Why?†
†† Jesus told us:† This do in remembrance of me.† Itís the God-appointed means to
†† bring our Savior and salvation before our eyes to awaken our love and memory.
In the OT church it was the sacrifices, weekly worship, feasts, sermons of priests
†† that served the very same purpose.†
And what about sermons?† Almost everything I tell you, you already know.
†† Many of you have been Christians for a long time, you know the Bible.
The purpose of preaching is not to tell you something new, itís to impress the old
†† truth on your heart again.† To awaken your memory so that you respond to Christ
†† with fresh conviction and faith and love.
Martyn Lloyd-Jones, was one of the greatest expository preachers of 20th century.
† †His sermons are profound.† Yet he was so convinced that the purpose of preaching
†† is to awaken the memories of Godís people, he discouraged note-taking.†
†† He wouldnít like hearing me say:† Three points for you note-takers.
Because he feared that if you approached a sermon like a lesson,
†† looking the points, taking time to write things down,
†† you might miss the true essence of the sermon.†
That you would leave saying, That was interesting.† That was helpful.
†† But your memory would not be awakened by the Holy Spirit,
†† so that the truth lives again in your heart.
So when you come to worship on the Lordís Dayóbefore, during, after itó
†† You ought to pray:† God, make me feel again your greatness and glory.
†† God, open my heart to be moved by the songs I sing.†
Make my heart thrill to hear the name of Jesus Christ.
Enable me to hear the stories of the Bible as if I crossed the Red Sea,
†† as if I ate manna in the desert, as if I celebrated Passover in the Upper Room,
†† and stood at the foot of the cross and the empty tomb.†
Lord, awaken my memory that way.† So that I will live under the power of the
†† Gospel, always aware of it and answering to it.
Thatís the command to rememberónow letís consider . . .
MP#2† The temptation to forget
When Moses speaks to the Israelites, he warns them about three times when
†† they will be especially susceptible to forget the Lord.
Times of discipline, times of transition, and times of prosperity.†
†† Those times are true of us as well.
1.† Weíre tempted to forget the Lord during times of discipline.
The time of discipline Moses mentions is the 40 years of wandering in the desert.
†† He calls it a time of testing and humbling and discipline for Israel.
Remember what happened.† God saved the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt,
†† and he brought them to the edge of the Promised Land.† But when they saw
†† how strong the Canaanites were, they complained and said, Godís going to
†† get us all killed.† We wish we were slaves back in Egypt.† At least weíd be safe.
So the Lord said, because of your lack of faith, you wonít enter the land.
†† Youíll wander for 40 years until this entire generation dies.
But that wasnít all the Lord said.† He also said, even though Iím not going to let you
†† enter, I forgive you your rebellion, and Iíll be with you, and provide for you,
†† and Iíll raise up your children, and they will inherit the land.
Moses says:† Remember that.† Remember the Lordís discipline.
†† As a man disciplines his son, so the Lord God disciplines you.
How do you discipline your children?† There are consequences, but you donít cut
†† them off.† You still love them and provide for them and have hopes for them.
And Moses tells them to remember specific things God did to show his continued
†† care even during their disciplineóthe manna, their clothing not wearing out.
When you are disciplined by God.†
†† When you are going through a hard time, youíll be tempted to forget him.
Hereís how:† Youíll be tempted to forget that God is for you.
†† Youíll know heís there, but youíll think heís just there to punish you.
And youíll forget all of the good things in your life, past and present,
†† that prove, heís for you, he cares.† Heís your heavenly Father.
†† So donít forget.† Look for the manna in your life.† Remember it.†
And remember what the Lordís doing when his hand is heavy on you.† Moses says:
†† Heís humbling you and testing you in order to know what is in your heart.
Your sanctification is his biggest concern.† Not getting you out of the wilderness
†† you are wandering in, in your marriage or your finances or your emotionsó
He cares about whatís in your heart.† Remember that.† Get in step with his Spirit.
†† Donít forget him in times of discipline.
2.† Weíre tempted to forget the Lord during times of transition.
After Moses reminds them of the time of discipline in the wilderness,
†† he reminds them of where they are right now.† And itís a time of transition.
He paints a picture of the futureóthereís this good land over the Jordan River.
†† Full of water and springs, wheat and barley, vines and fig trees,
†† pomegranates, olive oil and honey.† Iron and copper in the hills.
†† All that is going to be yours.† Youíll live in a land where you lack nothing.
But they arenít there yet.† Theyíre on the verge of it.
They have a lot ahead of them and thereís a big element of uncertainty
† †And as a people, theyíve been on the verge before, and didnít do so good.
Moses says:† Look, donít forget the Lord during this time.
†† Specifically, keep his commandments, walk in his ways, revere him.
Times of transition can be times when we forget the Lord.
When so many things are changing with us, when there is so much uncertainty
†† about the future and we are trying to figure things out, and facing new pressures,
†† and seeing new opportunitiesóitís easy to forget that the Lord doesnít change. And what he expects of us as his redeemed people doesnít change.
A friend of mine told me about a Christian friend his who was in a transition time.
†† He had graduated from college and was trying to get established in his business.
†† There was a professional exam he had to take for some kind of certification.
A week before the test, someone gave him a copy that had been illegally obtained.
†† It would have been tempting at any time.† But here he was, with a future before
†† him that he had glimpsed, but he wasnít there.†
Was he going to trust God to provide or take matters into his own hands?
†† He ended up destroying the test and the Lord honored him and he passed.
Donít forget the Lord during the transitions:
When you graduate from high school and move on to work or college.
†† When your children get older and your family schedule changes dramatically.
†† When your children leave home and you experience the empty nest.
Donít let those be times when you forget the Lord.† Donít let your connection
†† to him and his people suffer.† Remember him. †He doesnít change.
3.† Weíre tempted to forget the Lord during times of prosperity.
Moses describes the prosperous life they will enjoy in the Promised Land.
†† And he says:† Youíll eat and be satisfied, youíll build fine houses and settle down,
†† your herds and flocks will grow large, your gold and silver will increase.†
When this happens, youíre going to be tempted to forget the Lord.
He describes this forgetfulness in stages.† A kind of downward spiritual spiral.
First, he says, youíre going to stop thanking God for every good gift and giving him
†† credit.† When that happens your heart will become prideful.
Then he describes that prideful heart.† This is how you will start talking to yourself.
†† You may say to yourself:† ďMy power and the strength of my hands
†† have produced this wealth for me.Ē
You move from forgetting to thank God, to taking his glory for yourself.
Last, Moses talks about forgetting the Lord and following other gods
†† and worshipping and bowing down to them.† Heís describing idolatry.
For the Israelites, the idols would be those of the Canaanites.
†† Baal and Asherahófertility gods, harvest gods.†
†† And itís not much of a jump to see how that applies today.
If you forget the Lord in times of prosperity, eventually, you will
†† worship your prosperity as the thing that gives you security,
†† and self worth and happiness.† The end of that is breakdown.†
Last time I preached, we looked at the Bibleís teaching on prosperity.
†† Saw that, among other things, the Bible also makes clear that wine and oil, and
†† milk and honey, and flocks and hears are symbols of joy that comes from
†† knowing God and knowing you are forgiven.†
Prosperity in the big sense is the enjoyment of spiritual blessings in Christ.†
†† And that prosperity can be enjoyed no matter what your financial situation.
All the more reason, if the Lord is blessing you with a season of material
†† prosperity, not to miss the greater prosperity it is a picture of.
Urge you to take Mosesí words to heart:†
†† ďRemember the Lord your God, for it is he who give you the ability to produce
†† wealth and so confirms his covenant which he swore to our forefathers.Ē
Remember him in your prosperity.† Say often to your family and friends:
†† God is good.† The Lord has blessed me.† Surely I have a delightful inheritance.
CONC:† But where do you get the power?†
Notice Moses says:† I know you will forget the Lord.
†† Thatís true of our hearts.† We will all go through seasons of forgetfulness.
There is one verse in this chapter that stands out above all others.
†† Itís the second half of verse 3.
ďMan does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.Ē
Why is that verse special?
Because it was special to Jesus.† He quoted it after he had been in the desert,
†† fasting for 40 days.† The devil tempted him.
ďIf you are the son of God, tell these stones to become bread.Ē
What was his temptation?† To forget his heavenly Father.
†† To forget that God had said:† You are my beloved Son.
†† To doubt his provision.† To take matters into his own hands.
But Jesus harkened back to Deuteronomy 8.†
†† The remembered all God had done for Israel.
And because he remembered, he stayed true to his calling,
†† and he went to the cross for you and for me.
Where do you get the ability to remember?†
From Jesus Christ, who never forgot the goodness of his Father.
†† And if youíve forgottenóand in pride or despondency or disobedience
†† sinned against the Lord, remember that you have a Savior whose memory
†† is perfect, whose record is perfect, and you are connected to him by faith.
Repent and rememberóand move ahead into the life of obedience
†† God has called you to.