God wonderfully placed within man a facility called “memory.” Without memory it would be impossible to function and carry on the simplest affairs of life. Discount memory and a husband and wife would be strangers one moment after the wedding ceremony. A mother would not recognize her infant child a second after it was placed in her arms. There would be no deeds or contacts of any kind since we could not remember them. Upon leaving home, we could not recall how to return. A sad state of affairs would plague us. Even inspiration to some extend depended upon memory. The Lord charged the disciples to “Remember the word that I said unto you.”
Those allowing the facts of the Gospel to escape their memory have believed in vain, “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.” (I Cor. 15:1-2). One cannot acceptably worship without the exercise of memory as the facts of the Gospel as revealed in the crucifixion of the Savior are brought vividly to mind when we break bread together on the Lord’s Day. “Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.” (I Cor. 11:23-25).
GOODBYE TO OLD MEMORIES—HELLO TO NEW BEGINNINGS
As wonderful as some memories are, there are others that hinder us and retard our growth. These must be laid aside if we are to grow and maturely accept the future. Like Moses, the “pleasures of sin” must be let go if we are to achieve the blessing God has prepared for us. The record says, “By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.” (Heb. 11:24-25). Those inquiring into the life of Moses in search of some (or many) vices are left wanting, as the search is a vain one. It was not some iniquitous thing (as we think of it), that Moses did that was sinful, rather it would have been his rejection of encamping toward Canaan to receive the promise God had declared would be his along with the remaining offspring of Israel—Abraham’s seed. Anytime one does not obey God to obtain the blessings offered in His word, it is sin. Therefore, Moses clearly made the right choice to suffer affliction with the people of God.” This Moses “esteemed the greater treasure.”
The principle thus established in Moses is one that we must follow if we are to obtain the glories God has promised us. The principle is to make the choice of what treasure is greater. Shall it be the things of earth or the glories of Heaven. Remember the Lord saying, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.” (Mt. 6:19-20). A man cannot separate his heart from his treasure. We know (by God’s word), where Moses treasure was. Egypt would have claimed homage from most men. Who would not have enjoyed the position that Moses was able to claim? Everything the known world had to offer was in his lap—riches, honor, fame, power, prestige and all else, so much so, that the mind is boggled at the thought. Yet, he rejected this and placed his treasure with God’s promised people. Why? Because his heart was there. Listen to Jesus’ conclusion, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Mt. 6:21). No! The Lord did not say, “where your heart is, there will be your treasure also.” He did say, “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” With this statement, we not only can judge our fellows, but insight into our own affections is clear. Where is our treasure? Is it in a house, lands, automobiles, boats, clothes, or, is our treasure in spiritual things? When people speak of how much they love the Lord, how much they love His church, watch carefully where they put their money and the answer is apparent. When the Lord’s Day comes around and we decide (purpose in our heart II Cor. 9:7), how much we are we going to give let’s each ask ourselves, “where is my heart?” “Where shall I put my treasure going?”
John went a little further reasoning along the same line, saying, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (I Jn. 2:15). It goes without saying (since all are agreed), that the things of the world can refer to things that are wicked and immoral. However, there is a sin that is not necessarily wicked or immoral, unless, we contemplate the things included in the principle exhibited by Moses. His Egypt and our world are parallel. Therefore, those clinging to the world rather than accept, obey and conduct himself according to God’s will, the word of God, are in love with the world.
The person who hears the word of truth and neglects it in favor of the world is in this category. When one says, “I don’t know whether Jesus is the Christ” and refuses to investigate to learn the truth, he has chosen his Egypt. Likewise, if one believes that Jesus is the only begotten Son of God but fails to repent of his life of sin, he has chosen the pleasures of sin instead of righteousness. Taking those steps, there are those who wish to be a “secret disciple” and go along without confessing the Son of God, hiding his head in the sand. He may think himself true to God but he is a spiritual Egyptian. Then there are multitudes that profess loyalty to Christ but rebel at the thought of being immersed for the remission of sins by Christ’s authority. The choice is thus made clear—he loves the world. Such a person will not say Goodbye to old memories—Hello to new beginnings.
Let not the Christian think that when he once decided for Christ that was the final choice in life. Moses was an Israelite long before he made the choice to “refuse to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.” Because the Devil is ever working to lure us back into his service, we must be watching always lest his temptations snare us. “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about seeking whom he may devour; Whom resist steadfast in the faith.” (I Pet. 5:8-9). Often one is called upon to make a choice. It may be a material thing, such as a job, a physical thing, as one’s family, or even a spiritual thing, such as refusing to gather with other disciples in worship. Although it may differ according to circumstances with each person, when we choose the world be it understood, “the love of the Father is not in him (us).” The Apostle to the Hebrews cautioned, “let us lay aside every weight, and the sin that doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” (Heb. 12:1). The Christian life is compared to a race. Proper preparation had been made for winning. Weights were put around the body, upon the feet and held in one’s hands in preparation for the race. When the time for the race began the runner would lay these aside. These were not sinful things, but they did hinder and encumber one from running as swiftly as he could without them. These represent things that hinder our Christian life, things that slow us down, things that encumber us, keeping us from doing the good we otherwise can. The sin that doth so easily beset us in this context is without a doubt—unbelief. How often do we think our way is better than the Lord’s? Putting that thinking into practice is sin, spell it out my brother or sister S-I-N. We may sing with a voice of an angel, pray a prayer that would make Daniel proud, preach a sermon that lays Peter in the shade, if we choose to reject the word of God, the love of the Father is not in us—we have been beset by sin. The flesh pots of Egypt are still in our heart. We have not said Goodbye to old memories—hello to new beginnings.
OLD MEMORIES—FELLOW CHRISTIANS—NEW BEGINNINGS
Becoming a Christian does not mean that we cease to be human beings. As such the flesh sometimes gets the upper hand giving vent to problems between one Christian and another. The Lord and His inspired legislators not only foresaw such but early Christians experienced such difficulties. Jesus often used the Law (under which He lived), to teach certain principles that His disciples were to acknowledge and put into practice during trying situations. Said He, “I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, (senseless, empty headed), shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the alter, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.” (Mt. 5:22-24). If one comes to worship God, the importance of which I need not pause here to argue, and it comes to mind that a brother has ought (something, anything), against you, leave thy gift and approach thy brother to correct the situation existing between you two. This demonstrates the importance of the action—worship is important to every child of God, but there are things that can hinder it, rendering it vain. It is also noteworthy that the person is not to go to everyone else and relate the difficulty between oneself and a fellow Christian, it is between the two. It is clear that a representative is not to be chosen as the more people involved the muddier the water and greater the task of settling the matter. Following the Lord’s plan, one is most of the time able to “Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou are in the way with him.” (Vs. 25). Now the two may say Goodbye to old memories—Hello to new beginnings.
However, sometimes a person will not listen and the matter cannot be alleviated, then what is one to do? Jesus considers the other side examining this occurrence. “If thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.” (Mt. 18:15). If this procedure would be followed—if Christians would heed the admonition of the Lord, most, if not all the problems between brethren would be settled. But, what is the common practice? Gain the support of as many as possible to marshal a number against the fellow Christian, and, with this support he can be cast down, rather than gained. The small matter has grown to a large one. James warned, “the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and is set on fire of hell.” (Js. 3:5-6). Reverting to Matthew 18, the Lord says, “But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.” (Vs. 16). The matter is rehearsed before the witness or witnesses so that accusations cannot be flung this way and that, but that every statement can be verified and accurate. Reconciliation can occur—matter ended.
What if the matter cannot be settled here? The Lord continues, “And if he neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church.” Clearly, the witnesses after hearing the matter are to make a recommendation as to how the matter is to be settled. However, if the brother will not accept it, then, “tell it to the church.” The offended party is to rehearse the matter before the church (leaders), with the witnesses verifying the statements. A simple private matter has now blown into a public matter. Then what? The Leaders are to approach him stating what he must do— matter ended. However, “if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as a heathen man and a publican.” What may have began as a matter without sin attached to it the person now has given place to the Devil. The matter is out of control and the brother acts the part of a man without obligation or responsibility to the congregation. Although there has been many prayers along with heartaches and tears shed, there is nothing left for the church to do but stress the importance of obeying the Lord’s wish in clearing up such matters. The way this is done is by the body shunning the transgressor. A sad time, yet, He that bore our sorrows has so decreed and to be obedient to Him there is nothing left for the congregation to do but say, Goodbye to old memories and hello to new beginnings.
Barney Owens 1401
Anyone can sow seed, but not everyone can nurture the plants to bear fruit
If you sow thorns, don’t expect to harvest roses