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By Quek Keng Khwang

Preached at / Published Life BPC Weekly, 2006-01-15

Text: Psalm 50:22

Every one of us has had occasions when we could not remember an event, an appointment, a name or recognize someone we have not met for years. Coming to church fifteen minutes early for the Scripture memory is definitely not a hot favourite for some of us. More often than not, we joke about losing our memory and laugh at our absent-mindedness. Indeed, forgetfulness seems to be part and parcel of our lives which we often trivialize. 

However, being forgetful is not a trivial matter when applied to our covenant relationship with the LORD our God. Forgetfulness is an intense and awful word when we consider how we should respond to God our Maker and the Lover of our souls. The Psalmist underscored the danger of forgetting God, "Now consider this, ye that forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver." (Psalm 50:22) 

It is with this experiential knowledge of who the great "I AM" is, that Moses admonished the people of Israel not to forget God in his farewell address at Moab, near the Jordan River that stood between them and the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 8:11-20). 

To obey the warnings of life is necessary to our well being. Today, we hear of many warnings about terrorist attacks, the possible return of the Tsunamis and the threat of pandemic flu. However, the most important warning to be considered is the one that Moses, the great spiritual leader, gave the people of Israel - to beware of forgetting God. 

The word beware in v.11 means to guard oneself which signifies a solemn duty of every believer to remember his God and His covenant. The singular pronoun, 'thou' accentuates the personal vigilance that is needed and that no one can do on behalf or another. 

Hence, every believer is individually accountable to God (Romans 14:12) and he would be impudent to forget God and allow sin to work in his heart. 

What then are the surest ways that will lead a man or a woman to keep God out of his or her memory?

Failing to Keep His Commandments

"Beware that thou forget not the LORD thy God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day." (Deuteronomy 8:11)

Little children will often obey as long as they are in the sight of their parents. Sometimes, however, when they cannot see Mom and Dad, children will 'forget' the rules and disobey "out of sight means out of mind." 

As children of God, we are no different. If we do not 'see' God's commands by our daily reading of His precious Word, then we will backslide and forget about Him. We would be like the backslidden people of Israel whom Jeremiah lamented about: A voice was heard upon the high places, weeping and supplications of the children of Israel: for they have perverted their way, and they have forgotten the LORD their God (Jeremiah 3:21). 

When we do not remember God and obey His commandments, we are doing what the people did in the time of Judges, "�every man did that which was right in his own eyes." (Judges 21:25).

This lawlessness or antinomianistic spirit is seen when we circumvent the laws of God by minimizing the sin that we commit, justifying our sin in comparison with other people's sins or applying it situationally, in our favour. A lawless life incurs the wrath of a holy God and brings no spiritual blessings to us. The prophet Hosea cried out with regard to the people of Israel who had forgotten God and His laws, 

"My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.7 As they were increased, so they sinned against me: therefore will I change their glory into shame.8 They eat up the sin of my people, and they set their heart on their iniquity.9 And there shall be, like people, like priest: and I will punish them for their ways, and reward them their doings.10 For they shall eat, and not have enough: they shall commit whoredom, and shall not increase: because they have left off to take heed to the LORD." (Hosea 4:6-10)

If we persist in forsaking the laws and statutes of God, we are foolish and lacking in spiritual and moral sense. We are wise to do evil, but to do good we have no knowledge (Jeremiah 4:22). 

The apostle Paul was pleased that the Church of Philippi had not forgotten God even without the presence of Paul's leadership and guidance. He commended their obedience towards God, Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. (Philippians 2:12)

We must resolve to love His Word. We must resolve to work out our salvation, being constrained by the love of Christ to walk humbly before Him, to love Him and to serve Him. We must resolve to live out God's Word, fellowship with fellow saints and witness for Him. So Life B-P Church has always emphasized the importance of loving and meditating on God's Word. We have many fellowship groups and neighbourhood Bible communities for various ages, evangelism sessions and Gospel Sundays to which you can bring your friends and relatives to hear the Good News. On this point, next Lord's Day is a Gospel Sunday (22 January) at the 10.45 am Worship Service. Please don't miss this opportunity to bring someone to know Christ.

Living a Prideful life

"Lest when thou hast eaten and art full, and hast built goodly houses, and dwelt therein; And when thy herds and thy flocks multiply, and thy silver and thy gold is multiplied, and all that thou hast is multiplied." (Deuteronomy 8:12-13).

Moses continues to warn them of the temptations of pride in their prosperous condition. They are to take heed that their hearts be not lifted up against God. "When the estate rises, the mind is apt to rise with it, in self-conceit, self-complacency, and self-confidence" (Matthew Henry). Property, houses, and power will cause a man to consider himself capable of living independently of God. The uplifted heart is dangerous because it makes us forget our need for the gospel, for the Word of God, for fellowship and for Divine leadership. In other words, we feel no need for the presence of God in our lives. We let self rear its ugly head in us. Jesus warns us that "whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted" (Matthew 23:12). The Book of Proverbs provides many insights about pride and its consequences:

- The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate. (8:13)

- When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom. (11:2)

- Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall. (16:18)

- A man's pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit. (29:23)

Despite recent upbeat reports on Singapore's economic growth and the fact that we are living in a land of plenty, we as children of God and citizens of heaven above are to take heed that our hearts are not lifted up. The apostle Paul charge us in 1 Timothy 6:17, "Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy."

We should give all praise and glory to God and remember that the blessings that flow to us come from God alone. Since it is God who gives us power to get wealth, we should never be haughty about our gains and declare that "my power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth" (Deuteronomy 8:17). The wealth we have must be consecrated for His use so that we will not squander it. We are to be good stewards of the resources God has given to us for His glory and advancement of His kingdom.

Hence, God gave us power to get wealth not so much to gratify us but to establish His covenant with us that all God's gifts are in pursuance of His promises to us (Deuteronomy 8:18). 

Failure to Worship Him

"And it shall be, if thou do at all forget the LORD thy God, and walk after other gods, and serve them, and worship them, I testify against you this day that ye shall surely perish." (8:19-20)

Moses continues to warn Israel of the abominable sin of forgetting God and of walking after other gods, serving them and worshiping them. Apostasy is outright rebellion against God. Elijah told Israel many years later, "How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word" (1 Kings 18:21). 

Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount rebuked those who were double minded, "No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon." (Mathew 6:24)

Christians are willfully disobeying the command to keep the Sabbath holy when they forsake coming to God's house to worship not because of works of mercy or piety, but because they have a career to establish, a recreation to pursue or a child's schedule to accommodate. 

Subtle ways of expressing our affections for God are displaced when we live as if God does not exist. We claim His Name and do our religious duties, but our daily lives are lived as if He is not even there. We speak His Name, but our worship is not exclusively His. Other gods receive a share of our attention and worship as well - gods such as materialism, humanism, work, family, education, and self worm their way into our lives if we are not careful. To worship God along with others is to forget Him and not to worship Him at all. 

God is sadly forgotten and lightly esteemed. Hear what the Lord says in 1 Samuel 2:30 "but now the LORD saith, Be it far from me; for them that honour me I will honour, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed." and in Deuteronomy 8:19-20 "it shall be, if thou do at all forget the LORD thy God, and walk after other gods, and serve them, and worship them, I testify against you this day that ye shall surely perish.

Conclusion

Forgetting God is not a trivial issue before our Lord. As we face the challenges ahead in this New Year 2006, let us be "obedient unto the voice of the LORD our God" (Deut 8:20). Let us remember Him, that may He find us faithful: "Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful." (1 Corinthians 4:2).

Vision & Mission

 

To build a united church family that is committed to making disciples through Salvation, Sanctification and Service, to the glory of God.

Verse for the Week

October 15 & 22 - The Cost of Discipleship

For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. Matthew 16:25