During my junior year in high school, I found that I had drifted in my personal commitment to the Lord. One beautiful Spring Sunday morning, I was walking to a neighbor's house to go to church with them. During the three-mile walk, the Holy Spirit gently spoke to me reminding me of the zeal I had for the Lord when I first came to Christ. That morning and I remember the exact location I promised the Lord that He could have my life totally and that I would serve Him fully. That was a significant moment in my Christian life.
The next momentous event came when I was visiting a church in the mountains of Cocke County (TN) where my pastor, H. B. Harris, was conducting a revival meeting. Whether it was in a personal conversation or during a sermon, Harris, as we all affectionately called him, spoke directly and elicited confrontation with the Lord. During his invitation, he invited sinners to come to Christ. Many did. Then he asked for each Christian to take a minute to see himself as God did and determine if He was speaking. I did and found myself going forward. When Harris expressed some surprise and asked me why I came forward, my response was: I have come to indicate that I will serve the Lord fully in whatever vocation He called me. I actually thought it would be a teacher, and then a career in politics since I had strong interest in my country and government. It was during my senior year at White Pine High School.
Then, a few months later, it was off to Berea College in Kentucky. Since I needed to work to pay for my college expenses, I took advantage of Berea College's summer work program. I first worked in the Dairy and then got a job in the Office of Guidance and Testing where I worked until my senior year in college at which time I was invited to become the Teacher-in-Charge of a high school dorm. Naturally, I found a church home at Berea Baptist Church and came under the tutelage of Pastor O. B. Mylum. A nursing student and I conducted Sunday school on the westside of Berea in a little building that had housed chickens. God blessed our teaching and soon the adults expressed interest in having services in the community and asked me to lead them.
Since it is conventional in the Southern Baptist churches for an unordained person to be licensed to preach by his local church, I requested that my home church, White Oak Baptist Church, Morristown TN, to license me. Of course, that meant that the congregation first needed to hear me preach. Arrangements were made for me to return home to East Tennessee and preach in August 1953. With fear and trembling, I prepared to preach. As I prayed, the Lord impressed a message on my heart entitled Lest We Forget with the text coming from Deuteronomy 6:12.
Although I refined the message as I used it over the years, the message which follows is basically my first message. Some of you will be able to think back to 1953; others cannot do so because you were not around then.
The amazing thing is how contemporary the message is as we come to the end of a century over four decades later.
Two things have obviously not changed: the Word of God and the nature of man. Thus, He always has something to say through a sermon based on His Word. My prayer is that the Holy Spirit will speak to your heart and my heart Lest We Forget.
Subject: Lest We Forget
Text: Deuteronomy 6:12, Exodus 32
"Then beware lest thou forget the Lord, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage." Deuteronomy 6:12
It is easy to forget! It is easy to forget the Lord! Remember what happened to the children of Israel when Moses went up on the mountain to receive the Ten Commandments? Shortly before, they had stood to pledge their allegiance to the God who had delivered them from Egyptian bondage: "all that the Lord hath spoken, we will do" (Exodus 19:8).
These are paradoxical days. There are many churches, but things seem to be going to pieces. Dr. Hershael Hobbs, leader in the Southern Baptist Convention and pastor of the First Baptist Church, Oklahoma City, received a letter from Mrs. Homer Lindsey, wife of a missionary serving in Israel. One day, a boy ran away from the children's home over which Mr. Lindsey presided. As he went to retrieve the lad, the missionary stepped on a mine planted in the Arab section of Jerusalem. He was in the hospital having lost a leg. Mrs. Lindsey, describing the crisis to Dr. Hobbs, said: "I feel as though I am walking a tight-rope, when one false step can mean disaster."
This statement in many ways describes the world situation today. We are walking a tight-rope when one false move can mean disaster. Years ago, a leader predicted: "If man ever learns to split an atom, he will make a bomb." This is what happened and the results are frightening because of the nature of our times. H. G. Wells described our generation as a jet plane piloted by an ape, a description that appears too true.
Two men in Europe were talking of the great scientific advances and the prospects of even landing a man on the moon one day. One of the men, a refugee, expressed great perception: "I would just like to fly a few miles, walk down my own street, and live in quietness. I would just like to go home again."
The reality is that one day, the feared judgment is going to come and many are not ready! "Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness" (2 Peter 3:11). At one time men of science looked lightly upon these words, but no more. Now, many, using this scripture as text, have been calling for a moral and spiritual renewal.
It will be helpful for us to be reminded about some truths of God's unchanging Word. Just as Moses cautioned the people of Israel long ago not to forget the Lord who brought them out of bondage, we, too, need to be reminded. It is easy to forget.
As a nation it is easy to forget
I love America! God has blessed the United States far beyond any other nation on the face of the globe. Outwardly, we seem to acknowledge the Lord in many ways. On coins, we declare boldly, "In God We Trust." The pledge of allegiance to our flag, Old Glory, now includes the words, one nation UNDER GOD. Both houses of Congress open with prayer.
But God looks on men's hearts and not on slogans. In what are we placing our trust AS GOD SEES IT? The psalmist cried out, "Some trust in horses, some in chariots, but we will remember our God" (Psalm 20:7). One only needs to look at our nation's budget and see the large amount which goes to military preparation. America is building on sand, not on a firm foundation unless we remember that the Lord is our protection.
Any reasonably informed person knows something of the twentieth-century conflict and the moral revolution we are passing through moving from any belief in absolute values to what is called "relative morality." A person would have to be blind to all outside activities not to recognize the conflicts, the issues, the pressures, and the downright demonic powers that are at work in our nation at this very moment that are tearing down the very moral fabric which brought us to where we are.
God's Word had a profound effect on the founding fathers which is well documented in written statements such as the Mayflower Compact drafted prior to their landing. The Pilgrim fathers gave thanks to God when they set foot on the new land. The image of George Washington, on his knees in the snow at Valley Forge, is etched into our memories. The faith of Abraham Lincoln during the War Between the States is clearly stated in many of his addresses and other written documents. But "the home of the brave and the land of the free" is quickly becoming "the home of the rave and the land of the spree." America has forgotten God.
Some time ago, I became acquainted with a book written by Edward Gibbon in 1788 entitled The Decline and the Fall of the Roman Empire. The five reasons cited by Gibbon corresponds so closely to what is happening in the United States that one would believe he was mirroring contemporary affairs: (1) there was a rapid increase in divorce which undermined the dignity and sanctity of the home, which is the basis for honorable human society; (2) there were higher and higher taxes, spending public money for free bread and free circuses for the people. Today in the United States, twenty-seven cents out of every $1 goes for taxes; (3 there was a mad craze for pleasure with sports becoming more exciting and brutal; (4) gigantic armaments were being built at a time when the real enemy was within with decay among the people; and (5) there was a decline of religion with faith fading into mere form. Religion lost touch with life and became too impotent to guide the people.
God declares: "Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people"(Proverbs 14:34). America has just about reached the place where she is not immoral; rather, she is without morals. The supreme need of the individual and society is a fixed standard of moral conduct. God has provided that for us in the Ten Commandments. In our day, a dangerous perversion is being taught that nothing is right or wrong within itself. The circumstances dictate the morality of an act.
One of the most difficult things to counteract has been the vicious, insidious teaching of the evolutionary process in our schools' textbooks. It would be difficult to name anything more damaging and destructive than to teach precious boys and girls and young people the damnable, degrading evolutionary process of creation. Anybody who fairly considers the operation of this great universe would have to conclude that all this did not come into being by itself or by accident. The sad thing is, however, that evolutionary theory is being taught as scientific fact. As a result of such teaching, we now have a generation that has decided to live like animals since that is what they are taught.
What happens when a nation's leadership turns to God? One of the most amazing accounts is when Sennacherib, king of Assyria, attacked Judah and King Hezekiah turned to the Lord, an account fully recorded in Isaiah 36 and 37. It is amazing that this one event took two chapters to tell.
Our nation should be the most grateful nation under God's Heaven when we consider the blessings and protection He has extended to us.
As a church it is easy to forget
When the Lord Jesus Christ founded His church, His intention was that the church would do what He would do if He were in the world today. The church is the Body of Christ. Many churches do not experience the power of God because the membership has forgotten some basic truths.
It is easy to forget that victories are not won in our own strength
We are to walk by faith. We are to follow God's plans for His church which are revealed in His Word. Many times, a church depends upon its programs, upon its prestige in the community, upon its buildings and other assets. The collective power of all such things one can name is not adequate to win the victories God intends.
We must learn God's provisions for our strength and utilize them. A major provision is the power of the Holy Spirit to empower our witness and work. Jesus reminded the early believers to go tarry in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit came: "Ye shall receive power after that the Holy Spirit is come upon you, and ye shall be witnesses to me, both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth" (Acts 1:8).
The church is to do the natural, but depend on God to do the supernatural. Yet the Supper Room has supplanted the Upper Room in most of our churches and prayer is minimized. Much prayer, much power; some prayer, some power; no prayer, no power. No wonder we see little of the supernatural in our work since most is done in our own strength.
It is easy to forget that without a vision, the church will fail to fulfill its purpose
When Jesus looked out at the multitude, He saw them as sheep without a shepherd. His heart went out to them. It is so true that "Where there is no vision, the people perish..." (Proverbs 29:18).
If we were close enough to Jesus, we could see a vision of the masses. We could also see a vision of individuals. If you and I had the vision of Christ, we would see greater potential in people and situations which now discourage and defeat us.
Jesus saw possibilities in people. He saw in Zacchaeus more than a dishonest tax collector. He saw in Peter more than an outspoken fisherman. He saw potential in the woman at the well who would bring many in her city to Christ. Because He saw possibilities in people, He began with them where they were and talked to their heartache and suffering.
It is easy to forget that we have an adversary
The Lord Jesus Christ promised victory to the church when He promised that "the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Matthew 6:13-14). The warfare rages between forces of good and forces of evil. Our adversary is the devil who has battle plans to defeat the work of Christ (Ephesians 6:11). There are hindered churches because there are hindered believers (Galatians 5:7).
As an individual Christian it is easy to forget
A. It is easy to forget that Jesus asks us to follow Him and use our all in His service.
God's plan is to use man. In order to be what He wants us to be and do what He wants us to do, we need spiritual exercise, as well as physical exercise. We are to abide in Him. There is no greater challenge than the one laid out: "present your bodies a living sacrifice" (Romans 12:1-2).
B. It is easy to forget that if we get our praises here, we're already paid in full.
C. It is easy to forget that we are to lay up treasures in Heaven.
God looks at our motives. We are to seek His kingdom and His righteousness first (Matthew 6:33).
D. It is easy to forget that we have an influence.
Lot lost his influence in Sodom and Gomorroh. When he delivered the message to his sons-in-law that the cities were to be destroyed, he seemed as one that mocked to them (Genesis 19:14). They did not believe his message because he had not been living as though the cities were going to be destroyed.
Every Christian is to share in the mission of Christ. A child of God should live righteously. We are to be both "salt and light" to our society (Matthew 5:13-14). Salt, not only adds flavor, it cleanses, heals, and preserves. Light dispels darkness. When God says that we should do something, we should be quick to trust and obey. If you are saved, act like it. It is time that we realize that when we are worldly, the effect of our being "salt and light" is diminished. Not only do we suffer, but our society suffers also. Worldliness is becoming the standard for many believers. Many no longer blush at sin.
As a lost person it is easy to forget
A. It is easy to forget the worth of your soul.
Jesus placed great value upon the soul. "Ye are of more value than many sparrowsâ€ (Luke 12:7). â€œHow much then is a man better than a sheep" (Matthew 12:12). There is joy in Heaven in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents (Luke 15:7). "For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" (Matthew 16:26).
1. Your soul will last forever. There will come a day when "Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was; and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it" (Ecclesiastes 12:7).
2. Your soul is made in the image of God and has the capacity to respond to God. "And God said, let us make man in our image " (Genesis 1:26). The more worldly pleasure we enjoy, the less satisfied and contented we are with life. Men will lie, kill, cheat, steal--but we were not meant to be that way.
3. Your soul is the real YOU. "And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul" (Genesis 2:7). You have a body; you are a soul. Many live like the body is going to outlast the soul. That isnâ€™t true. The body will decay; worms will devour it.
4. Your soul is of infinite value. This truth is supported by what Jesus taught about it and what He did to redeem you.
B. It is easy to forget that every heartbeat brings you closer to eternity.
Paul cries out, "...now is the accepted time; behold now is the day of salvation" (2 Corinthians 6:2) because tomorrow may be too late--"or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern " (Ecclesiastes 12:6). "and as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment" (Hebrews 9:27). The time is uncertain. Are you ready?
C. It is easy to forget that God's Spirit will not always strive with man.
This is made plain in Genesis 6:3: "And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man." How awful it would be if God looked down on the unsaved today and said, as He did in the days of Hosea, "Ephraim is joined to idols: let him alone" (Hosea 4:17).
But the day of grace is still here. When a sinner repents and turns to Christ by faith, God shows mercy, cleanses, and grants pardon. Will you respond to His call by coming now? What is it that God wants you to do? It is time to obey.