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Memories

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 15:1-10; Text: "By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain." (1 Corinthians 15:2)

One blessing that enriches our lives above measure, is the ability to remember. Suppose God had created man without this blessed memory and we had absolutely no recall of former events? Many lessons learned would never benefit us, because we would be unable to retain them; neither would we enjoy again the special moments and happy times, which often come in life. By our memories of past joys and pleasant events, we are able to relive it again. The ability to remember is a gift from God, for which we should be thankful daily.

In connection with our memories, Paul has made a rather remarkable statement about the gospel. He said that saints are saved by the gospel, if they keep it in their memories. Of course he did not imply that it is a substitute for Christ. No one, nor anything can perform for us the work which Jesus accomplished on the cross. Peter declared, "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). He had reference to our being saved from our sins by Jesus Christ and declared that nothing else could do that for us. Jesus performed that task with eternal perfection. So it is not the gospel which saves or delivers us from the power and penalty of the sins that would eternally separate us from God. It is a different salvation under consideration.

What then does Paul mean by saying we are saved if we keep the gospel in our memories? With regard to the Church at Corinth, he referred to their being saved from the various errors concerning the resurrection. In fact he devoted this entire chapter to the reaffirming of their faith and belief in the resurrection of the body. Various groups of that day held beliefs which were foreign to divine scripture. The Sadducees for example, did not believe that there would be a resurrection of mankind. They arrived at that erroneous conclusion through the process of natural reasoning which is mentioned in Matthew 22:23-33. Jesus stated very simply but emphatically, that they were ignorant concerning the scriptures which pertained to the resurrection. Then there was the idea that the resurrection had already taken place. Evidently, some Pharisees held this belief and such were Hymenaeus and Philetus, "Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some" (2 Timothy 2:18). While it is true that many were raised to life at the time that Jesus died on the cross (Matthew 27:50-53), that event did not fulfill the ancient prophesies which were contained in Job 14:1-15, Job 19:25-27, Isaiah 17:15, Daniel 12:2 and a host of others which are contained in the Old Testament. Paul is declaring that those who remember biblical teachings about the resurrection, shall be saved from the error which could cause their faith to be overthrown. May we continue to search diligently the pages of the divine record with regard to the resurrection, and hold firmly to the biblical assurances of life after death.

The holy scriptures not only save people from being deceived about the resurrection, but also from being misled into the paths of sin. Even today, saints are still saved by their memory of the word of God. No wonder the Psalmist declared, "Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee" (Psalm 119:11). Such a reservoir of scripture knowledge helps guide us past the many mistakes and sins of life, thereby saving us from erroneous beliefs and evil practices. We should thank God for the word of God but also for the mental capacity to keep it in our memories.

Having looked at the benefit of memory as set forth by Paul, let us now look beyond that specific use of our memories, to see other blessings which are afforded us by such recall. Have you ever looked at a picture album and allowed your mind to drift back to the time and place where the picture was taken? As you reminisce, you discover another blessing of memory. Perhaps you were holding a picture of your parents or grandparents in your hand, but in your mind you possessed a great gallery of mental pictures. You recalled some of the happiest moments of your life as you think of the times you spent together and with the exercising of memory you hold again a loved one now gone to glory. The same blessing is experienced as we wonder down memory lane and live again a moment of our childhood. Because of our memories, our hearts often rejoice as our eyes are filled with tears and the world becomes again as it was when we were children. No wonder the song writer said, "Precious memories, how they linger, How they ever flood my soul, In the stillness of the midnight, Precious, sacred scenes unfold" (Precious Memories by J. B. F. Wright).

The expression "sacred scenes" should call our attention to a very special and invaluable segment of our memories. It should cause us to leave the secular and journey on to consider our spiritual memories. Locked in our minds are sacred scenes of yesteryear, that still bless and strengthen us today. One of the strongest weapons in satan's arsenal is doubt. He even tried to use it against Jesus. In the great temptations of our Saviour, as recorded in Matthew 4:1-11, three times the statement appears; "if thou be the Son of God." If satan would hurl accusations of doubt against the sinless Son of God, then certainly we can expect that he will also cast the same against us. However, when such doubts come, we have the memories of many sacred moments spent in communion and fellowship with God and these are valuable weapons against doubt. These memories help us to say, "Though I fail, God has not and I have ample evidence that I am His." Remember that when John the Baptist doubted if Jesus was truly the Messiah, the message of assurance sent by Jesus was to remind John of the miraculous works He had performed. His memory of the work of Christ would then serve to drive away his doubts.

I am so enriched by God's gift of memory, for I find many joys in the recall of spiritual events that took place many, many years ago in my childhood. I am also blessed often, as I reflect upon former pastorates and by memory I gaze again into the faces of saints no longer with us. Sometimes I spend a few silent moments, tiptoeing through the memories of days and happenings which would be forever lost, if not now preserved in my memory. Indeed, we are blessed by God through memory! We ought to use it more often and each time we do, let us remember to thank God for giving us such a blessed gift and allowing it to be filled with many happy scenes of the past. Let us exercise our memories by the recall and discussion of past events, both secular and spiritual. God says, " Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations; ask thy father and he will shew thee; thy elders, and they will tell thee" (Deuteronomy 32:7). When we do so, we use our memories for God's glory. He is certainly worthy of such glory, since He gave memory for our benefit.

As we study the benefits of memory, we would indeed be derelict in our duty if we did not recognize that with this gift, comes also a responsibility to use it for God's glory, as well as our joy. Therefore we need to give careful attention to what the Bible has to say about the spiritual use of memory. When we come to the end of the day, we are commanded to remember God and meditate upon Him (Psalm 63:6). The youth are taught to, "Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them" (Ecclesiastes 12:1). Israel was warned that when they enjoyed the blessings and benefits of the "Promised Land", there would be a tendency to forget God (Deuteronomy 6:10-12). Asaph set a good example for us, saying, "I will remember the works of the Lord: surely I will remember thy wonders of old" (Psalm 77:11). We all need to remember those wonderful events that fill the pages of divine scripture and also remember what God has done for us. There is also a need to remember the promises and commandments of God. Paul said, "I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, "It is more blessed to give than receive" (Acts 20:35). But many people today neglect the reading and studying of scripture. How can they possibly remember His words in times of need, if they do not have them stored in their memories? In times of crises; like the disciples, we too will need to remember the words of Jesus (Luke 24:8). So we need to "search the scriptures daily" (Acts 17:11) and store them in our memories. I love to meditate on scriptures which are locked within my mind, don't you? We can have more of such memories through a diligent and prayerful study of the Bible. If you desire the blessings of such a memory, it is certainly attainable.

Before concluding our study of memories, there are two other very valuable lessons which need to be considered. Thus far I have dealt primarily with good memories. However, as realists, we must recognize that we possess both good and bad memories. Some memories are the source of blessings and joy, while others cause pain and regret. David prayed, "Let the iniquity of his fathers be remembered with the Lord; and let not the sin of his mother be blotted out. Let them be before the Lord continually, that he may cut off the memory of them from the earth" (Psalm 109:14-15). Some bad memories are so painful that we would rather never recall them again. Paul had bad memories, as evident by this description of himself; "Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief" (1 Timothy 1:13). Surely all of us have something in our past, that is still the source of sorrow each time we call up the memory. Such an acknowledgment should cause us to exercise extreme care in what we say and how we live, for there are memories now in the making. Today we are making our memories for tomorrow. If we face each day carefully and prayerfully, we may succeed in holding our bad memories to a minimum. If we live carelessly and recklessly, then our to morrows are likely to hold more bad than good memories. The events of each day, are inscribed in our minds and become the memories of our to morrows - whether good or bad. Paul said, "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap" (Galatians 6:7). If this were true in no other way, it certainly is true with regard to our memories. The words and deeds you sow today, may be reaped in the form of memories, somewhere in your to morrows. Therefore, let me encourage you, in the light of this truth; be careful what you do and say. Live your life in the will of God and do service to Him, thereby sowing and reaping good memories. If you commit your life to be lived as a Christian and you daily endeavor to follow the perfect pattern - Jesus; then the memories you will reflect upon in the future will add joy to your life.

The final point to be considered is also a sobering one. Think upon this fact carefully; you are going to become a memory! It is certain that none of us will live forever in this life. The alarming reality is that we must die. The Bible says, "And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment" (Hebrews 9:27). Death is an appointment that all of us shall keep unless the Lord returns first. When we are dead, we cease to exist in this world and much of that which we will leave behind by us, is the memory of what we were. In the wisdom of God, Solomon wrote, "The memory of the just is blessed; but the name of the wicked shall rot" (Proverbs 10:7). There are some people so evil that their families and this world, are better off when they are gone. There are others so good, that the world is never the same without them. Most of us will become a mixture of good and bad memories. However, if we live our lives for God and strive to overcome our weaknesses and tendencies to sins; then our memory will unquestionably be one dominated by good. It is evident that after people die, loved ones tend to forget the bad or maybe they just focus on the good the deceased did while they lived. Needless to say, the better we lived by the grace of God, the less bad our loved ones will need to overlook and the more good examples they will possess to encourage them onward and upward in the service of our beloved Saviour.

So I pose this profound question to you, "What kind of a memory do you want to become?" Do you want to be remembered for good things or evil ones? Probably, most if not all of us, would prefer to be remembered for good done. Well, no matter what you might be today, with the grace and help of God, you can live the remainder of life so that when you are gone, you will become a good memory in the minds of people whose life you touched. I strongly encourage you to get involved in the service of God and live a peaceful life with others. Be kinds and compassionate toward others and faithful to God. Let the Bible be the lamp and light of your path (Psalm 119:105) and you will live your best. Such men and women will grow old gracefully and will fill the minds of all who know and love them, with good memories. What kind of memory would you be if you died today? May God give us all grace to do better today than yesterday and better tomorrow than today.

Since God, through Paul, called our attention to the importance of our memories, let us use them often in His worship and service. If you have recognized the extreme value of this often unnoticed gift, then you are encouraged to lift your heart in fervent thanksgiving. You are a steward of your mind and therefore your memory. Paul said, "Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful" (1 Corinthians 4:2). Not only do men expect faithfulness from their stewards, but God also requires it of us. Have you been faithful to God and used wisely the gift of a memory. You may complain that you forget too much, but that affects us all as a product of our busy times. While we do forget much, we are also blessed to remember many things that bless us in ways too numerous to count. In the wisdom of God, older folks remember the distant past better than the recent past, while younger folk remember the recent past since they don't have a distant past. But as each one shares with the other, both are helped and each finds joy in sharing with their loved ones what they remember.

Since the memory is a work of God which enriches and blesses us immeasurably, let us return it to Him in remembering the things which will glorify His majestic name. If you remember what Jesus has done for you, I believe you will want to do more for His praise. The Bible says, "worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing" (Revelation 5:12). Let us exercise and use our memories, to daily remember Godís goodness. Then, let us give to Him our thanks and our very best, for He is worthy.




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This page last updated on June 7, 2014