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  • Keith Harris

Bless the Lord

Eugene Peterson says, “Forgetfulness atrophies the muscles of praise and leaves them flabby and passive. Remembrance internalizes a history of grace and strengthens praise into blessing, so that we act in a renewing way on our environment.”

Have you ever reached a point in your life where you had to remind yourself to praise God? Sometimes we simply get busy with the fast pace of life and find ourselves day in and day out only going through the motions. Often, if we are not careful, our worship and praise to God becomes nothing more than one item in a long list of “to dos” for Sunday. And with any luck, we’ll have time…

But the question arises… “How could I forget?”

A certain Persian king was elevated from a poverty-stricken home to the glory of a royal throne. After he became king he sent his servants to the old shack where he was raised with orders to gather every relic of those days. They brought back fragments of his home: many broken toys, his patched shirt, a crude wooden bowl from which he ate, and numerous worthless mementos of his childhood. All these he arranged in a special room of his palace, and each day he spent one hour sitting among the memories of his humble past. On the wall hung this statement: “Lest I forget.”

We are so quick to forget; that’s why monuments are important and necessary. But do you know what’s even more tragic than forgetting our heritage and freedom’s price? It’s forgetting how much we owe to God! Each Sunday is really a kind of Memorial Day—a day to remind us of God’s love and kindness. Just like the Persian king, we need to call back the past blessings by surrounding ourselves with the Word of God. In Psalm 103, David calls us to remember. I counted at least 10 blessings:

Forgiveness of sin, healing of diseases, redemption, love, compassion, inner satisfaction, righteousness, justice, revelation, and longsuffering.

In verse 18 David says, “To those who keep His covenant and remember His precepts to do them.” With this statement, he tells us that these are conditional upon our obedience to His commands. They’re not automatic. They flow to us as we walk in the ways of God. They’ll keep us on the straight and narrow. They’ll keep us steady in the time of trial. And they’ll heal our emotional scars and hurts.

Remembering the mercies of God through the gracious gift of Jesus drives us to: Give Thanks Dr. David Soper, in God is Inescapable, suggests that the difference between a prison and a monastery is only the difference between griping and gratitude. Prisoners spend every waking moment griping, whereas monks spend every waking moment giving thanks. They are both imprisoned, in a sense, but what a difference! Dr. Soper goes on to say that when a prisoner becomes a saint, a prison becomes a monastery; when a saint gives up gratitude, a monastery may become a prison. The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings. An old Chinese proverb says, “When you drink from the stream, remember the source.”

Remembering the mercies of God through the gracious gift of Jesus drives us to:

Resolve to Walk in God’s Ways No Matter What!

Next to the one who doesn’t pay his bills, the doctor’s most annoying patient is the one who refuses to follow orders. Recently it was estimated that between 60 to 90 percent of all patients leave half-empty pill bottles, cheat on diets, continue to smoke, or never return for checkups—despite careful prescriptions and cautious advice from the doctor. There are many today who are spiritually ill— anemic and weak; they lack stamina and power to resist temptation. It’s because they fail to heed God’s Word and choose rather to walk in disobedience. The memory of God’s grace should spur each of us on to a firm determination to do His will…regardless of the cost.

Remembering the mercies of God through the gracious gift of Jesus drives us to:

Teach Our Children all about the goodness of God.

How do we keep the memory of God alive in their hearts? We need to relate our personal experience with God to them. However, we shouldn’t feel compelled to give all the gory details, but we should be willing to share with them all that God has done for us. We need to share with them the eternal truths concerning His ways. Our children learn so much each day. And we should make sure we are doing all we can to instill within them a love for God and his Word. How can we keep the memory of God alive in their hearts? By living out our faith before them in such a way that they will also hunger for God.

Jennie Hussey lived all her life in rural New Hampshire. And for most of it, she took care of her invalid sister. Although this certainly restricted her in some ways, Jennie was known for her cheerful and courageous attitude. She was a member of the Society of Friends, the Quakers. In fact, she was a fourth-generation Quaker, which takes her roots back to the eighteenth century, almost back to the time of William Penn, the remarkable man who brought the Quakers to America and founded the colony of Pennsylvania. Besides founding Pennsylvania, William Penn is also remembered for a Quaker classic entitled “No Cross, No Crown.” Maybe this explains why Jennie began her hymn with the words, “King of my life, I crown Thee now,” and ended it with the words, “Lead me to Calvary.”

King of my life I crown Thee now, Thine shall the glory be;

Lest I forget Thy thorn-crowned brow, Lead me to Calvary.

Show me the tomb where Thou wast laid; Tenderly mourned and wept;

Angels in robes of light arrayed, Guarded Thee whilst Thou slept.

May I be willing, Lord, to bear Daily my cross for Thee;

Even Thy cup of grief to share, Thou hast borne all for me.

Lest I forget Gethsemane; Lest I forget Thine agony;

Lest I forget Thy love for me, Lead me to Calvary.

How could we forget? How could we forget the great benefits given to us by our God? Memory is a great gift from God. Use it in the most positive way you can. May the past mercies of God serve as a help for the present and a hope for the future.

Bless the Lord, O my soul!


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