Yesterday I concluded a two part message which is arguably one of the most important messages I have ever preached, yes, that no less. I preached on psalm 103 ‘ bless the Lord oh my soul and forget not His benefits’ . The psalm is a magnificent exposition of God’s works and dealings with His people and culminates in a sweeping praise that encompasses even the angels. It is a clarion call to continually remember the works of God. Moses is another who persistently called on his people to ‘forget not his benefits. Which of course they did, forget I mean.
Picture the awesome spectacle of the sea parting making way for people to walk across on dry land, and returning to submerge the pursuers of God’s people. Such a spectacle would surely be indelibly printed on one’s psyche and forever secure unshakeable faith and gratitude. Not so. Barely a few days later, in the face of another challenge, bitter water everywhere and nothing to drink, the people began to fuss, fret and fight and wallow in self pity. They had quickly forgotten. And so the pattern continued, trouble, grumbling, deliverance, joy, trouble…
And lest we tut tut over Israel, I hasten to add that we are no better. We are so extraordinarily quick to forget, to go from heights of delight and gratitude for a miracle, a healing, a deliverance, salvation to abysmal depths of despair, irritation with God, with the Pastor, and rebellion. We sing, we dance, we say hallelujah and if we are incurable charismatics a resounding ‘praise the Lord’, and then we promptly forget. We do not keep in remembrance and keep celebrating God’s past goodness to us. Yet we are enjoined to remember.
Spurgeon tells the story of one man who remembered. “Hutton, Bishop of Durham, was one day riding over the bleak northern hills. He stopped, and, giving his horse to his servant, he went aside from the road to kneel down on a certain spot. He always did so when he reached that place; for in the day of his wealth and honor he had not forgotten that when he was a poor boy he had crossed those wild hills, without shoes and stockings, and had turned a cow out of her place that he might warm his foot with what little heat remained in the place where the creature had lain. He had become bishop of a rich see, and a man of renown; but he never passed that spot without kneeling down and praising God.”
And so we all in our history have those seminal moments, ‘the day when..’ as Moses put it . We all have markers of divine favour in our lives, those moments when God has come in and pulled us out of deep waters. The psalmist says to you and I ‘forget not not his benefits’. And the one great benefit we have received from God is His Son Jesus. And though we can recite John 3.16 in deep drug induced slumber, we may lack the daily reality of it; the deep seated consciousness that brings us to the place of utter and absolute submission and delight. But Jesus Himself charges us to remember, as He instituted the last Supper His words were ‘do this in memory of me’. And so should we.
‘Forget not His benefits’.