Peninsula Community Church
The Blessing of Memories
September 17, 2017
1 Corinthians 11:23-26 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
This morning I want to look at the subject of memories. The fact is we all have them. Some memories are good and there are some memories we wish we could forget. There are memories that are buried and these memories seem to come racing from the depths of our mind when something similar happens in our life. It could be a good memory that brings us joy or a bad memory that causes our heart to ache. Either way we have been created with the power of remembering.
This week was the anniversary of 9/11. There is no doubt that if I were to ask you where you were and what you were doing on Tuesday Morning, September 11, 2001 you would be able bring to your memory the exact spot your were, and what you were doing, with great detail. This tragedy and assault against our nation was one of those events that will be forever etched in our memory. For Michelle and I, 9/11 was personal in the fact that we were living on Long Island. We had family living in the city, at that time. We had several friends and members of our church who worked in and around the World Trade Centers. We also had several fire fighters and police officers in our church that responded to the call for help. For days, we were glued to the tv and our phones getting updates and communicating with those at ground zero. We will never forget that season of our life. You see the thing about memories is that they are forever etched upon the pages of our history.
The Bible is not silent on this topic of memories. In fact, on several occasions God called His people to set up memorials so they would remember their past and thus remember His goodness and protection over them. I will mention a couple of the these.
One such memorial was erected in Ebenezer. Listen to the words of 1 Samuel 7:10-13. As Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to attack Israel. But the LORD thundered with a mighty sound that day against the Philistines and threw them into confusion, and they were defeated before Israel. And the men of Israel went out from Mizpah and pursued the Philistines and struck them, as far as below Beth-car. Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen and called its name Ebenezer; for he said, “Till now the LORD has helped us.” So the Philistines were subdued and did not again enter the territory of Israel. And the hand of the LORD was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel. The purpose of the memorial in Ebenezer was to help the Israelites remember the goodness and the help of God in their lives. This memorial was to serve as a tangible reminder to the Israelites of God’s protection and power. Every time the Israelites would gaze upon the stone, they would be reminded of the goodness of God and the protection of God.
Another memorial set up by the Israelites was when they crossed over the Jordan River into the promised land (Joshua 4). Joshua instructed them to take twelve stones from the land of captivity and place them in the river. From the river, they were to take twelve stones and place them in the Promised Land. Why? Joshua instructs the people that when their children ask what these stones mean, they were to remind them of the victory, protection, and gifts of God during their days in the wilderness. They were to tell the story of how God brought them into the Promised Land.
We all have memorials established in our lives. It might be a specific date. It might be a specific event. Regardless of the memorial it serves to remind us of what God has done for us and in us. In one of my older Bibles, I have entered dates of specific events in my life. These dates and events serve to remind me of the goodness and graciousness of God in my life. As we review the purpose of memorials, we find there are four primary purposes for memorials.
First, memorials serve to remind us of the blessings of God. For those at the Jordan River, it was a reminder that God had kept them and protected them through forty years of aimless wandering. God’s protection was so strong that the shoes and clothes they wore did not wear out. Think about that. They were in the desert for forty years. They walked through the desert across rocks and stones and yet their clothes did not wear out. By way of this memorial, they were reminded of the goodness, greatness, and provision of God.
Secondly, memorials move us to personal renewal. We remember what God has done and we are moved to honor God with our lives and all that we are. We are moved emotionally which moves us to affect change in ourselves. There are times in my life that I need encouragement and God reminds me of the times when He has been faithful, and He has been present in my life. In being reminded of the past victories in Christ, I am motivated to keep the faith and to grow deeper in Christ.
Third, memorials remind us of a time where our old defeats have been rolled away. Memorials serve as a way to remind us that our past defeats do not have to impact our present life. These memories remind us of the victories won and the ground that has been taken from the enemy of our soul. When the twelve stones, taken from the Jordan river, were placed in the promised land, they became a reminder that the defeats of the past did not have to be the reality of the present. The past was behind them and while it shaped them it did not have to define them.
Think about the children of Israel in the wilderness. They failed big time. They failed to trust God. They mumbled and they complained. They rejected God. They worshipped idols. And yet God brought them to the Promised Land. Yes, we were defeated! Yes, we were sinners! Yes, we had failed big time, but not any more! Now we can live free, and we can be whole as a passionate follower of Christ.
A fourth purpose of memorials is to keep our focus on a better day and a time yet to come. You see, He is not just a God of the past and the present, He is also a God of the future. For that reason, we can commit our past, present, and future to Him. When you read the story of Israel living in the promised land you find that things changed when they crossed the Jordan River. They were given the land but they had to fight for it. They had to focus their attention on God. They were no longer provided manna from heaven. Their faith was maturing and their trust level in God was at an all time high. They were looking to the future of living in the Promised Land. They stopped looking back and began to look forward.
This morning there is one last memorial we must consider. It is the cross. As we review the story of the cross, we pause to remember what God has done in and through us. Think about it for a moment. Because of the gift of Christ upon the cross, there is no sin beyond the power of God to forgive. There is no mistake that cannot be corrected at the foot of the cross. As we look back, we see the protection and guidance of God in our life. We also understand that at the cross we find an opportunity for renewal and a fresh start. It is here at the foot of the cross that we can bring our failures, our insecurities, and dreams and lay them at the altar.
We also see the cross as a time to roll away old defeats. When we remember the cross, we are reminder that what I use be does not define who I am now. Yes I was a sinner, but now I am saved by His grace. I was a drug addict or alcoholic, but now I am clean and sober. I was rejected and confused, but now I am accepted in Christ. I was filled with fear, but now I am trusting in Christ the solid rock. I was looking for love in all of the wrong places, but now I know I am loved by Him.
And finally, as we remember the cross, we are reminded that no matter what is happening in our life things are not over yet. There is a better day to come. There is more to life than what we are experiencing right now. We are growing in grace. We are growing in knowledge. We are saved, but one day we will experience ultimate salvation when we pass from this life to the next. We receive healing now, but one day we will be healed completely and totally. We receive precious blessings now, but one day that blessing will be ours forever.
So, today, we gather around the Lord’s table to celebrate the greatest memorial of all time. We have been set free and redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. The cross stands as memorial of this event, and today we take the elements of communion to remind us of all that has been done on our behalf.
For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/media.php?pageID=14
Copyright © 2017 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom